- Agronomic: potatoes
- Fruits: melons
- Vegetables: sweet potatoes, beans, cabbages, cucurbits, eggplant, sweet corn, tomatoes
- Additional Plants: native plants, trees
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
- Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, chemical control, cultural control, disease vectors, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, physical control, row covers (for pests), sanitation, traps, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring
- Production Systems: general crop production
- Soil Management: green manures, soil analysis
Local farmers in American Samoa, and the agriculture professionals who serve them, have observed a paradoxical situation. The market for fresh, locally-produced vegetables and fruits is widely acknowledged to be potentially vast and relatively untapped. Pending local and global changes could increase the need for more local production, as incomes may fall due to unemployment, or prices for expensive imports may rise due to rising fuel prices. However, the public has become aware of the potential for pesticide residues in locally-grown foods. The challenge is to help farmers to grow food safely, and to assure the public that the Territory’s farmers follow the best management practices that will protect consumer health, and the health of the land and water of the Territory.
Since educational resources for teaching appropriate pest control methods and other sustainable practices in vegetable production are limited in American Samoa, the Soil and Water board decided to focus their efforts on updating and expanding an existing educational resource on the topic. A manual, entitled “How to Grow Vegetables in American Samoa” was written by an employee of the American Samoa Department of Agriculture, Ian Swan, in 1974. It is the only known resource for beginning vegetable growers which is specific to the tropical climate and other geographical conditions of the Territory. While useful, the manual is outdated, and does not include recently-recommended alternatives to chemical pest control. The manual does not fully describe soil conservation principles and techniques, which are vital for protecting local watersheds from contamination and sedimentation. It does not include more recent plant cultivar recommendations that could be useful to local farmers in minimizing chemical inputs. Further, it is written only in English, and includes only small black-and-white photographs and hand drawings. As such, it is of limited value to local agricultural agencies and other professionals in meeting the needs described above.
The American Samoa Community College’s Division of Community and Natural Resources provides a well-documented base of knowledge from which to begin this project. Technical Bulletins published as early as the mid-1980’s provide locally-specific data on sustainable fruit and vegetable production. Research conducted during those years on vegetable production (Navarro and Misa, 1983) is still relevant today, and will be featured or referenced in the planned workshops and publication. Since that very first bulletin was published, the Land Grant has been the Territory’s local experimental station and storehouse of knowledge on sustainable vegetable production, including research on vegetable hybrids (Lewis, 1991), mechanical methods for reducing pesticide use (Lloyd and Vargo, [undated]) or (Hirata, 1999), and plant diseases (Brooks, 2000). Workshop presenters and the contracted Project Manager will incorporate this collective wisdom into project outputs, along with a wide spectrum of new information and research results from tropical producers and agriculture professionals in the Pacific Basin.
The project targets natural resource/agriculture professionals and teachers in American Samoa, as well as existing and prospective fruit and vegetable producers. While many of these farmers may not be in need of additional training in IPM or soil conservation for fruit and vegetable production, the partners hope that those more forward-thinking existing farmers will attend the project events and read and utilize the updated manual we propose to develop. Approximately 30 farmers are expected to attend each of the Year 1 and Year 2 workshops. A minimum of 300 farmers per year are expected to receive the printed manual.
In Year 1 of the project, instruction will take place on the Island of Tutuila in the English language, with instruction from Project Manager Mr. James Ferrell. The English-language version of the manual will be distributed to workshop participants, and field visits will be held to observe IPM and conservation best management practices. In Year 2 of the project, instruction will take place in the underserved Manu'a Islands (Ofu/Olosega and Ta'u) in the Samoan language, with instruction from Land Grant Extension agents participating in Year 1 training. The Samoan-language version of the manual will be distributed to workshop participants, and field visits will be held to observe practices.
Project objectives from proposal:
Year 1 and 2 workshops will expose a minimum of 30 agriculture professionals and farmers per year to new information and research results. Post-event assessment will include documentation of awareness and knowledge gained through participation in the 3-day events. The events will conclude with an evaluation designed specifically for the target audience; i.e. agriculture professionals will receive a different evaluation form than attending farmers, prospective farmers, or teachers.
Medium-term and long-term outcomes will be tracked by the Project Assistant, a local commercial farmer. Local agricultural professionals (target of 20) will be surveyed after the Year 2 workshop, with a questionnaire that seeks to document the use of the revised manual in delivery of Extension or other more informal educational efforts of the participating professionals. This will be the first opportunity for the agriculture professionals who attended the Year 1 workshop to actively apply their new knowledge in conducting their own educational event. The questionnaire will ask these instructors to identify whether and how their involvement in Year 1 programming improved their skills and/or capacity to teach others.
Long-term outcomes include the adoption of IPM and conservation practices by new and prospective farmers (target of 20 per year, or 40 for project), as well as the number of farmers who initiated a new agricultural enterprise based on their participation in a workshop or receipt of the manual (target of 6 per year, or 12 for project). Farmers will be assessed through site visits and phone contact with participants in the last quarter of the two-year project period. The Project Assistant will handle this phase of the evaluation. Additional follow-up with participants may be conducted after project activities have concluded.