Hot Shot Hawaii v.2.0: Expanding Hawaii’s Agricultural Professionals Capacity to Advance Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Practices in Hawaii

Project Overview

Project Type: Enhanced State Grants
Funds awarded in 2017: $24,895.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Hawaii
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Theodore Radovich
University of Hawaii, Manoa

Information Products


  • Agronomic: sugarcane
  • Fruits: bananas, papaya
  • Vegetables: beans, eggplant, sweet corn, sweet potatoes


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, cover crops, cropping systems, crop rotation, drought tolerance, fertigation, fertilizers, intercropping, organic fertilizers, pollination
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-restaurant, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, genetic resistance, precision herbicide use
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: green manures, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community services, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Awareness and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices is increasing within the State of Hawaii. The 2014 Organic Production Survey conducted by the USDA NASS provides additional evidence of grower adoption of sustainable agricultural production practices such as organic mulch/compost, green/animal manures, no-till or minimum till, maintained buffer strips, water management practices, biological pest management, maintaining beneficial insect or vertebrate habitat, selecting planting locations to avoid pests, releasing beneficial organisms, choosing pest resistant varieties, and planning plantings to avoid cross-contamination. Hawaii organic fruit and vegetable production is increasing in acreage and valued over $12.1 million dollars compared to $7.6 million in 2008. Hawaii’s organic crop values are now higher than 14 other states in the continental USA. (Honolulu Star Advertiser, October 26, 2015) The Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program (SOAP) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH CTAHR) remains committed to conducting annual professional development educational opportunities for agricultural professionals (AG PRO) in cooperation with WSARE. We anticipate expanding our annual AG PRO educational events by organizing a ‘hot shot’ team consisting of UH CTAHR members who are highly respected for their work in advancing sustainable agriculture. We anticipate taking the university out to rural ‘hot spot’ areas across Hawaii. Priority areas for 2015 include, but are not limited to climate change; improving soil health; cover crops; local fertilizer alternatives; irrigation management; reduced risk pest management alternatives; variety selection, etc. Priority topics will be modified based on stakeholder involvement and site identification.

    Hawaii’s tropical climate provides an ideal haven for insects and plant diseases. Despite Hawaii’s strict agriculture regulations, each year, new pests enter into Hawaii through various points of access causing significant economic losses that greatly affect the profitability and sustainability of many tropical fruit and vegetable farm productions statewide. In addition, due to limited land availability, repetitive farming, mono cropping system and the lack of replenishing organic matter has resulted in the depletion and buildup of essential/nonessential nutrients in many of Hawaii’s soils. For an island state, pesticide and fertilizer applications must be monitored on a regular basis to minimize runoff, leaching of nutrients, and ground water and ocean contamination. Small acreage and family owned farms now account for majority of Hawaii’s agriculture industry on Oahu. Public interest in commercial food production is on the rise with new statewide farmer education initiatives and sustainable ‘grow more local food’ promotions. New beginning farmers, as well as recent Asian immigrants have entered Hawaii’s agriculture industry with little to no experience in sustainable crop production (Sugano, 2013). Due to their remote locations, lack of trust in government programs, and need to stay close to their farming area, these under represented developing agricultural areas need more educational support from SOAP and WSARE.

    The Hawaii WSARE Professional Development Program conducts its annual educational event at different locations around the Hawaiian islands. A recent assessment of agricultural professionals who represent organizations such as CTAHR, USDA NRCS, consultants, farmers/ranchers, and other state/federal agencies in Hawai?i prioritized the top 3 educational issues to be: 1) pest management, 2) plant / soil nutrition, and 3) food safety (Sugano, Radovich, & Smith, 2015). These priorities are in line with our assessment of the local needs and bottlenecks to be addressed to enhance and advance adoption of sustainable agricultural practices in Hawaii. A change in Hawaii’s agriculture industry has prompted an ongoing need to increase awareness about the environmental and economic impacts of efficient and sustainable agricultural practices. Expanding ‘hot shot’ teams across Hawaii will allow us to reach those who are under-served due to their location and expand our reach in transferring the latest research based advances. Applied research generated via funding through grant work sponsored by Western SARE, Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture, Western IPM, and others by ‘hot shot’ leaders such as Ahmad, Radovich. Sugano, Teves, and Uyeda will be modified and used as part of the training curriculum.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objectives and Timetable:
    We aim to use this supplemental WSARE funding to maximize the limited resources available for agricultural professional development training in rural areas of Hawaii. Development and radiation of ‘hot spot’ teams in identified rural areas such as Hawaii, Molokai, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu in combination with educational programs on responsible farming, high-quality, reduced risk edible commodities, environmental stewardship, agricultural competitiveness, and food self-sufficiency will strengthen partnerships with local teams of extension agents and NRCS staff and allow SOAP to reach more stakeholders in 2017 and beyond. Design and delivery of the in-depth training on priority sustainable agricultural topics will be based on the needs of those who service and farm in these agricultural communities.

    We have identified SOAP topic leaders and will support speakers’ travel expenses. Support of inter-island travel for neighbor island agents who wish to attend ‘hot spot’ workshops outside of their areas will be provided as funding permits. We will partner with the host agent, local producers and established statewide program such as the Go Farm Program at UH CTAHR to generate easy to read/understand educational workshop materials, handouts, and execute field demonstrations based on stakeholders' identified needs and information delivery preferences.

    Through expanding this yearlong educational training across the state, SOAP anticipates reducing reliance on imported crop inputs and improving soil health; advocating for reduced risk agricultural practices that are mindful of our natural resources and worker health; improving dissemination of the latest research based information directly to agricultural professionals and producers; advancing agricultural professionals’ skills and competencies; and improving our capacity in taking the university out to rural areas to service existing, new, and beginning producers in Hawaii.


    • October 2017-Assembling ‘hot shot’ teams for the identified ‘hot spot’ rural areas: Hawaii (2), Maui, Kauai, Molokai, and Oahu (2)
    • November –December 2017: Develop a statewide educational curriculum on priority sustainable topics.
    • January –March 2018: Initiate the first wave of educational events across Oahu, Molokai and Maui.
    • April- June 2018: Initiate the second wave of educational events across Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu.
    • January-September 2018: Develop and capture educational materials on SOAP’s various electronic media platforms for statewide distribution
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.