POSTED: 12 DECEMBER 2007 - 7:00am HST

Support Traditional Taro Farming Now!

image above: taro tending at Kapahu Living Farm in Kipahulu, Maui. For more see here.

by Adam Asquith on 9 December 2007

I would like your help in soliciting support for an important sustainable agricultural issue. The only relatively rich soils on our islands are along our rivers and streams. This is where and why native Hawaiians grew our staple food, taro. It is where most of our taro is grown today, and it is where we must return to achieve sustainable food production. Through a regulatory SNAFU, it is now a violation of Federal law for anyone to return to farming these traditional areas. This can be easily fixed by reissuing a permit that has expired.

It is extremely important for the future of our communities to have State and Federal agencies facilitate traditional and sustainable practices.

Please have everyone in your network contact all the parties listed below with the provided form letter or one of their own. Make sure they have Senators Akaka
and Inouye contact the Army Corp.

We are community; we engage in, rely on for sustenance, or just strongly support, the traditional practice of wetland taro farming here in Hawaii. As you know, most taro farming in Hawaii occurs in the floodplains along rivers such as Hanalei and Waipio.

Most of the area under production, historically and currently, is in wetlands and under Federal jurisdictional through Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

Because of the social and cultural significance of taro to our communities in Hawaii, and recognizing the 1000 year history of taro cultivation in these wetlands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CEO) authorized a general permit for restoration and farming of taro in jurisdictional wetlands in Hawaii on February 28, 1997 (GP95-003). Unfortunately, this permit was allowed to expire. This has left our community without specific guidance and support from the CEO and State Department of Health to continue and revitalize our traditional crop production, in
traditional areas, in Hawaii.

Many farmers opening fallowed sections of existing farms are now in violation of Federal law. Native Hawaiians returning to family kuleana lands to practice their culture and feed their families are now in violation of Federal law. Anyone seeking to halt the decline in production of our traditional food by planting more taro in traditional areas is now in violation of Federal law.

While we commend our regulatory agencies for the original permit, it should never have been allowed to expire, thus putting our cultural and agricultural practices in jeopardy. We request that this Army Corp General Permit, or an identical one, be immediately reissued, as no practices or conditions have changed since its conception. I also request that your office contact me as soon as possible to inform me as to what actions were taken to rectify this problem.

Thanks you for your attention to this matter.

Contact Senators Akaka and Inouye directly through their websites. See list of contacts below.

Clean Water Branch
Environmental Management Division
State Department of Health
P.O. Box 3378
Honolulu, HI 96801-3378

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

Regulatory Branch
Building 230
Fort Shafter, HI 96858-5440

DLNR's main offices are located at:
Kalanimoku Building
1151 Punchbowl St.
Honolulu, HI 96813

Linda Lingle
Governor, State of Hawai`i
Executive Chambers
State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawai`i

Mina Morita
14th Representative District
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 314
415 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
phone 808-586-8435; fax 808-586-8437
From Kauai, toll free 274-3141 + 68435

Gary Hooser
Majority Leader
7th Senatorial District
Hawai'i State Capitol, Room 214
415 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone 808-586-6030; Fax 808-586-6031
From Kauai, toll free 274-3141 + 66030

GMO Free Kauai
phone: (808) 651-9603

Hawaii Seed
PO Box 2353
Kealakekua, HI 96750

phone: (808) 331-1211

see also:
Island Breath: Protect Haloa
Island Breath: Taro Research Protested
Island Breath: WCMS Poisoning
Island Breath: Gene Networks
Island Breath: GMO Moratorium
Island Breath: GMO Corn Toxicity
Island Breath: GMO News
Island Breath: GMO permit requests
Island Breath: Hawaii Taro Patents
Island Breath: GMO crops & superweeds
Island Breath: BioPharming Lawsuit
Island Breath: GMO Algae in Hawaii
Island Breath: China & Kraft GMO
Island Breath: GMO Free Kauai
Island Breath: GMO free Molokai
Island Breath: Mendocino GMO ban
Island Breath: GMO Experiments

Island Breath: GMO Rice

Island Breath: GMO in Hawaii

Island Breath: The Future of Food
Island Braeth: Percey Schmeizer