Tag Archives: Native Hawaiians

LIFE project founder Sabina Swift (right) seen here with a coffee farmer on the Big Island. (Photo courtesy of Jari Sugano)

The Staff of LIFE

On-farm interaction is key to the program’s success. (Photo courtesy of Jari Sugano)

By Frederika Bain

Could you grow a papala? A pipicha? A bitter ball? Maybe not, but you might be able to find one in your local farmers market, thanks to a growing population of immigrant farmers bringing the techniques and products of their native lands to Hawai‘i. But while there’s much that these growers know, there are aspects of starting to farm in a different country, climate and economy that can be confusing and even daunting.

This is where LIFE comes in. The Local Immigrant Farmer Education Program, out of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, serves Southeast Asian farmers in Hawai‘i whose small acreage, remote locations and limited English language skills may make it difficult for them to connect with local growers. LIFE also serves other socially disadvantaged, limited-resource producers, including women and Native Hawaiians. The program is headed by extension agent Jari Sugano; she and Randall Hamasaki, Maria Diaz-Lyke, Robin Shimabuku and Glenn Sako are the training members of the group. Recently retired agent Steve Fukuda helped to make the program what it is today; project founder Sabina Swift stays involved, as does Stuart Nakamoto. And, in 2010, Ming Yi-Chou and Elsie Burbano joined the team.

The hands-on aspect of the program is one that farmers appreciate the most. Trainers and growers get out into the fields and prune, spray and build. At a recent “field day” event, participants were able to take part in building aquaculture grow tanks, while other workshops have shown how to deal with small business taxes, ways to combat insecticide resistance, and the proper care and handling of papayas for shipping to the Mainland. Many of the program’s materials and workshops are translated into the languages of their intended readers, something that has been lacking in previous training programs.

At LIFE’s core is the one-on-one interaction provided by the “Farm Doctor” visits, where an agent meets with individual farmers on their land to “diagnose” any problems with the crops or soil. It’s the interaction, the mutual teaching and learning, that’s important. Clients can participate in the program by conducting “Cooperator-Inspired Field Trials” to investigate planting or agribusiness techniques and share their findings with LIFE, while program coordinators act as resources and aid in collecting and summarizing the data. And one of the program’s stated measures of its own success is the number of participants who are able to start helping others in their community. What better way to reap the bounty of what different cultures can bring to the table?

For more stories on the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, visit http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/Impacts.aspx.

Top photo: LIFE project founder Sabina Swift (at right) with a coffee farmer on the Big Island. (Photo courtesy of Jari Sugano)

New Image

Mahalo to OHA

Significantly situated next to a lush and tranquil taro patch, UH Mānoa’s Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge appropriately nurtures the roots of the native culture that makes these islands so special.  And, in four short years, there’s no question the school has also made great strides in boosting its extramural fund to $3 million in contracts and grants.  Now, the Native Hawaiian Student Services at UH Mānoa is one of five recipients of an Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) grant to help improve conditions for Native Hawaiians.

OHA’s Board of Trustees recently awarded $1.8 million in grant money to a combined total of five programs aimed at helping Native Hawaiians improve their health, education and economic self-sufficiency.

One of the awards went to Hawai‘inuiākea: Namely, $180,000 over two years to Native Hawaiian Student Services to fund an internship program designed to assist about 40 Native Hawaiian students with their unified goal of graduating from college within a 2-to-4 year timeframe. The name of the program, Aka Lehulehu, refers to a well-worn path created by a mentor and literally refers to “shadowing.” Aka Lehulehu focuses on providing internships to undeclared, upper division Native Hawaiian students to help them clarify their values and work toward self-efficacy and a major—thereby, supporting the 2-to-4 year graduation time line.

Another grant of $500,000 over two years was awarded to UH Mānoa to fund the Partnerships to Improve Lifestyle Interventions (PILI) ‘Ohana Program. The aim of PILI ‘Ohana is to integrate community wisdom and expertise with scientific methods to conduct research on health disparities, with a specific emphasis on obesity, in Native Hawaiian, Filipinos, Chuukese and other Pacific Islanders.

The PILI ‘Ohana program represents a partnership between 10 community-based organizations throughout the State of Hawai‘i and a team of academic researchers from the UH Mānoa  Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH) at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

The funds cover a two-year period and target programs that are expected to directly benefit an estimated 1,810 Native Hawaiians. Each of the five programs will receive between $179,700 and $ 500,000 over the next two years.

Hawai‘inuiākea is the youngest school at UH Mānoa, established in 2007 by combining the Departments of Hawaiian Studies and Hawaiian Language. Both academic units offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees that serve an estimated 200 students majoring in Hawaiian Language, with the same number majoring in Hawaiian Studies. An additional 1,600 students take classes within the program to fulfill general requirements for other majors.