Sustainable Pest Control for the Tropics

2003 Annual Report for EW00-026

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2000: $78,090.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $81,200.00
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Richard Bowen
Department of Nat Res and Envir Mngt

Sustainable Pest Control for the Tropics


The year round warm temperatures and abundant rainfall of the tropics provide ideal conditions for tropical crop pests such as nematodes, insects, and plant pathogens. Island ecosystems are very vulnerable to the environmental damages caused by the misuse of toxic agricultural chemicals. Many supply wells for Oahu’s drinking water must be treated to remove toxic agricultural chemicals found in the groundwater, the legacy of intensive sugar cane and pineapple production. Island growers must find suitable pest control alternatives to grow high quality crops without tainting water supplies.

A training program was initiated to educate agricultural professionals about sustainable pest control methods for the tropics. A training module and extension materials were prepared for use in an intensive two-day training program in Hawaii. Segments from the training were broadcast via video teleconferencing facilities to participating colleagues throughout the American Pacific. Ten demonstration sites are underway to field test sustainable pest control techniques. Field days will be held to showcase these methods to the public and to give participants valuable learning experiences relating to the use of these methods.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  • To develop the capacity of University of Hawaii CES and Hawai`i NRCS personnel, and other agricultural professionals to understand and promote successful sustainable pest control methods for the tropics that reduce the use and dependency on toxic agricultural chemicals.

    To develop training for agency personnel and agricultural professionals in this topic area based on a participatory-learning model.

    To stimulate hands-on education events for farmers and other members of the agricultural community to be organized and led by those trained in sustainable pest control.

    To expand the scope of the sustainable pest control training module to reach personnel and agricultural professionals in the Pacific via an interactive video teleconference.


Two-Day Training * Jan 7th & 8th * Hilo, Hawaii

We held our two-day intensive training on January 7th and 8th, 2003, in Hilo, Hawaii. Hilo is the headquarters of Hawaii Organic Farmers Association (HOFA), one of our most important project partners.

Each presenter began with a brief introductory talk about their area of expertise to establish a base level of knowledge (to attempt to address the extreme variability in the educational backgrounds of the participants). The researchers focused on methods which have a proven track record in Hawaii and the Pacific (“favorite methods”). They then overviewed some of the new products and techniques being tried (compost teas, EM, etc.) giving additional information about their own particular experiences (positive/negative/none) with the products/methods. Finally, a case study was presented as an interactive activity for the group.

The following topics were covered in the training program:
– Sustainable Insect Control
– Distance Diagnostics & Recommendation
– Living Mulches: Valuable Allies in the War against Insect Pests
– Sustainable Plant Disease Control for the Tropics
– Sustainable Nematode Control for the Tropics
– NRCS Tools for the Tropics – WIN-PST: Pesticide Screening Tool
– Organic Pest Control for the Tropics

Participants also enjoyed the field trip to view organic ginger production hosted by Hugh Johnson of Puna Organics and with a special presentation by Bob Shaffer, HOFA Trustee and private consultant (SoilCulture).

There were 55 participants at the two day workshop: 14 CES agents, 16 NRCS professionals, 5 UH university staff, 3 teachers from community colleges, 3 ag consultants, 4 nonprofit groups, 6 farmers, and 4 students. Ten trainers and resource people attended also.

Extension materials provided included PowerPoint presentations (for future use by Extension Agents and NRCS personnel), case studies, and handouts relating to each subject area (from ATTRA).

We had a wide range of responses to the training program. In general reactions were positive. Some patterns became apparent. HI-CES staff tend to be more research oriented and many hold advanced degrees. Some of them felt that the program was too basic, nothing new. HI-NRCS staff were critical of certain presentations that were “too technical” and had too much research information. Field staff tended to demand proven, practical information. Research staff were more comfortable with theoretical solutions. These differences in trainee expectations and education levels were difficult to resolve.

In addition, there is relatively little information which has been developed for tropical ecosystems relating to sustainable pest control. Many of the participants’ questions could not yet be answered.

There was general consensus that the topic is important but very complex, that Hawaii agricultural clients want up to date information about sustainable agriculture, and that there is great benefit to having the two agencies meet. Most participants felt that they had a much better understanding of organic agriculture as a result of the training program. One participant expressed that they had an “appreciation of the difficulties and uncertainty of sustainable control” and “it seems that the new ways must incorporate good old sense practices.”

Video Teleconferences to American Pacific
  • 2/26/2003 (1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Hawaii Time) Dr. Brent Sipes – Sustainable Nematode Control
    Participants: Hawaii, Pohnpei, American Samoa

    3/19/2003 (12:30 PM – 2:30 PM Hawaii Time) Dr. Mark Wright – IPM Topics for the Tropics & Distance Diagnostics
    Participants: Hawaii, Saipan, American Samoa

    4/16/2003 (12:30 PM – 2:30 PM Hawaii Time) Bob Shaffer, HOFA Trustee – Organic Pest Control Techniques for the Tropics
    Participants: Hawaii, Saipan, American Samoa

    5/21/2003 (12:30 PM – 2:30 PM Hawaii Time) Dr. Cerruti Hooks – Living mulches: Valuable allies in the war against insect pests
    Participants: Hawaii, American Samoa

    7/30/2003 (12:30 PM – 2:30 PM Hawaii Time) Dr. Janice Y. Uchida – Sustainable Plant Disease Control
    Participants: Hawaii, American Samoa

We greatly expanded our VTC programming for this project. Our grant agreement called for a single two-hour transmission – we expanded the programming into a “Sustainable Pest Control for the Tropics” Series of five programs. Videotapes of each transmission were recorded and are available.

American Samoa: Communications with American Samoa were excellent for all of the programs and they consistently had 6 to 10 participants at their site. They were most satisfied with the VTC programming. The level of information was at times very basic for them, however they asked for the time segments to be expanded from 1 hour to 2, which allowed additional time for questions on specific problems. This worked well.

Pohnpei: The equipment in Pohnpei was being repaired for several months, which made them inaccessible. Frequently during our VTC transmissions contact with the Pohnpei site was broken, making it impossible for them to follow the presentation. We were disappointed with the failure of VTC technology. The participants were grateful for being considered for the programming, but really didn’t get much from it.

Northern Marianas: We successfully connected twice to Saipan, with 1-3 participants in attendance. The broadcast quality was good and the participants were favorable about the program.

Guam: The super typhoon in Guam caused considerable damage to their equipment. By the time the station was functional, they were not interested in participating in our programming.

Demonstration Sites
  • Kaua`i: Richard Ebesu, CES Agent, Control Onion Pests using RepelGro Silver Mulch and Environmentally Safe Pesticides Ecozin and Bacillus thuringiensis (completed)

    Kaua`i: Richard Ebesu, CES Agent, Use of Agribon Floating Row Cover Material to make Banana Bunch Sleeves to Prevent Banana Rust Thrips Infestations (completed)

    Maui: Robin Shimabuku, CES Agent, Disease Management Strategies for the Control of Pink Root on Sweet Onions in Hawaii (with Dr. Hector Valenzuela)(completed)

    Moloka`i: Kali Arce, CES Agent and Glen Fukumoto/Robert Joy, NRCS Plant Materials Center, Evaluating Melon Production and Fruit Fly Infestation with the Use of Typar (two sites).

    Moloka’i: Alton Arakaki , CES Agent, Growing Vegetables in Living Shield Cover Crop (completed)

    O`ahu: John McHugh, CropCare Hawaii, and Chris Smith, NRCS, Cover Cropping with Barley and Oats in Bare Ground Fallow Cropping Systems (completed)

    Pohnpei: Dr. Flordeliza Javier, College of Micronesia, Evaluation of Sustainable Techniques for Cucumber (completed)

    Big Island/Hawai`i: Bob Shaffer, Hawaii Organic Farmers Association, Prevention of Soil borne pests in Organic Edible Ginger (completed)

    Big Island/Hawai`i: Bob Shaffer, Hawaii Organic Farmers Association, and Virginia Easton-Smith, CES Agent. Organic Coffee and Macadamia Nut Production – Hawai`i Island

Extension Materials
  • Sustainable Pest Control for the Tropics Webpage

    Downloadable PowerPoint presentations on sustainable methods to control insects, plant pathogens, nematodes, and introduction to organic production techniques (9 presentations, 2 case studies)

    Downloadable (.pdf files) Demonstration Site Case Studies (7 files)[As of 12/01/2003]

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Impacts and Contributions

At this stage in the project we observe the following general trends occurring:

Close Ties with NRCS: We have cultivated an excellent working relationship with our Hawaii NRCS colleagues for this project. Both CES and NRCS recognize the real value of getting field staff together periodically to share their experiences.

Wide Diversity of Participants: We continue to enjoy wide support for and participation in the grant project, with representation from local farmers, CES, NRCS, colleagues from community colleges, UH researchers, nonprofit agricultural organizations, and agricultural consultants.

Increased Interest/Information about Tropical Organic Production: Hawaii Organic Farmers Association’s leadership role in this project has paid off with participants in the training program reporting an increased understanding of organic production systems.

Involvement of Traditional Farming Organizations: The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation’s sponsorship of a demonstration site has helped “sustainable agriculture” become a more mainstream concept. As traditional farming organizations become more closely involved with sustainable agriculture, barriers to adoption tend to erode.

Impacts in the Pacific Region: The University of Hawaii is viewed as a leadership institution for agriculture in the Pacific Basin. Our affiliation with the Agricultural Development in the American Pacific (ADAP) project has strengthened networks with Pacific Island colleagues. The repeated use of VTC in this project has stimulated greater communication and interaction among ag professionals in the Pacific region.

Participatory Learning Model: The use of demonstration projects in conjunction with the training program has greatly bolstered interest in and understanding of sustainable agriculture techniques by participants. We have observed an increase in the number of ag professionals hosting demonstration projects, as well as new interagency partnerships and relationships being forged. Participants have acquired a deeper understanding of ecological principles as a result of the “hands-on” demonstrations. In addition, the requirement of hosting a public field day has extended the outreach component of the project.

Accessing Information: The use of our website has greatly enhanced the ability of ag professionals to access and download up-to-date information relating to sustainable pest control.

In summary, we are pleased with our progress to date. To allow our demonstration projects to run their full course, we have requested a project extension.


Richard Ebesu
CES Agent
UH Cooperative Extension Service
CES Kauai
3060 Eiwa Street #210
Lihue, HI 96766-1881
Office Phone: 8082743471
Alton Arakaki
CES Agent
UH Cooperative Extension Service
Molokai Office
PO Box 394
Hoolehua, HI 96729
Office Phone: 8085676934
Dr. Mark Wright
Assistant Professor / Extension Specialist
Univerisity of Hawaii at Manoa CTAHR
Office Phone: 8089567670
Dr. Flordeliza Javier
College of Micronesia – FSM
Cooperative Research & Extension Land Grant Prog
PO Box 159
Kolonia, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Dr. Brent Sipes
Associate Plant Pathologist
University of Hawaii at Manoa CTAHR
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
3020 Maile Way, Gilmore Hall 310
Honolulu, HI 96822
Office Phone: 8089567076
Bob Shaffer
Alternative Agriculture Consultant
Dr. John McHugh
Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation Env. Committee
Environmental Committee
Dr. Janice Uchida
Associate Plant Pathologist
University of Hawaii at Manoa CTAHR
Office Phone: 8089562827
Dr. Cerruti RR Hooks
Junior Entomologist
University of Hawaii at Manoa CTAHR
Office Phone: 8089562448
Larry Shinshiro
State Agronomist
USDA NRCS Hawaii State Office
Prince Kuhio Federal Bldg.
300 Ala Moana Blvd. Rm 4-118
Honolulu, HI 96850
Office Phone: 8085412600
Dr. Eileen O’Hora-Weir
QC Officer
Hawaii Organic Farmers Association
PO Box 6863
Hilo, HI 96720
Office Phone: 8089697789
Robert Joy
Plant Materials Specialist
USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center
Maunaloa Highway
PO Box 236
Hoolehua, HI 96729-0236
Office Phone: 8085676885
Jody Smith
Education Specialist II
University of Hawaii at Manoa
NREM Dept Sherman Lab
1910 East West Rd
Honolulu, HI 96822
Office Phone: 8089567774