Sunday, May 20, 2012

Waianae Growers' Emergency Listening Session

Understanding the educational needs of Waianae basil producers

May 17, 2012, 1:00 pm
New No. One Chinese Restaurant
86-003 Farrington Highway
Waianae, Oahu
Year-round crop production in Hawaii increases the risk of damage from weeds, insects and diseases with constant pest pressure.  Limited knowledge to identify pests, apply proper risk management tools against specific pests and inability to read pesticide labels are the most common situation, leading to unsafe practices among immigrant growers (Rattanasamay, 1999; Swift and Brennan, 2003). 

The risks of pesticide misuse are major health and safety concerns for the growers with limited language proficiency, their families, as well as consumers.  Use of pesticides by unskilled applicators poses public health risks of chemical residue in produce and the environment. In October 2011, immigrant farmers in Waianae were cited for misuse of pesticides on green onions. Eight hundred pounds of green onions were destroyed.

In April 2012, growers with local and export markets of basil were asked to ceases all sales due to detection of two illegal pesticides. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture, conducted follow-up testing and collected 10 basil samples from 5 different produce distributors on O‘ahu and found that 7 out of 10 samples were positive for the presence of one or more pesticides that are not approved for use on basil.  Per the HDOA, laboratory testing of basil samples taken directly from six O‘ahu farms indicated that four basil farms were positive for at least one pesticide that is not approved for application on basil. All contaminated crops have been restricted from sale and distribution. 

LIFE, RMH and CTAHR Food Safety program held an emergency educational session with ‘at risk’ farmers in the Waianae area of Oahu, to determine the cause of the problem and possible solutions to address their immediate and long term educational needs. A list of priority issues will be drafted and shared with program partners: CTAHR IR4 Minor Crop Program, CTAHR Food Safety Program, Hawaii Department of Agriculture and Hawaii Department of Health with the intent to develop educational programs to help growers in understanding pesticides regulations and the importance of proper use of pesticides.

Chinese speaking translators were available to translate questions and capture growers' responses regarding the challenges of farming and applying pesticides in accordance with federal and state regulations in Hawaii. 

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