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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research » Research » Research Project #431689

Research Project: Developing Sustainable Tropical Crops for Marginal Lands

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

Project Number: 2040-21000-017-05-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 30, 2016
End Date: Sep 29, 2019

Due to the relatively recent formation Hawaii Island, much of the soil on the east side of the island is composed well-drained rocky muck soils developed in organic matter and volcanic ash underlain by pahoehoe lava. Planting conventional crops on these lands are difficult as expensive preparation is necessary to make it feasible for plant growth. Since many tropical crops are able to grow in minimal soil on the surface of the ground, we would like to explore these crops and potential crops for human consumption, animal feed and value added products. The University of Hawaii at Hilo, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management has developed a good working relationship with the lessess of the Department of Hawaiian Home Land in Panaewa on the Big Island of Hawaii and developed a hydroponic farming system that can be used for both personal and commercial production of vegatables. In this project we would like to expand that farming system to include tropical staple and fruit crops that would be useful for self-sustaining individual families or commercial farm production.

Select tropical crops, including giant taro (Alocasia) and breadfruit will be tested with lessess at the Department of Hawaiian Home Land in Panaewa on the Big Island of Hawaii. These crops have been selected since they are able to grow on marginal land with root systems that mainly grow on the surface of the ground. Both crops are important staples for the cultures in the Pacific and can be utilized by single families or grown and sold commercially. Together with the University of Hawaii at Manoa CTAHR Extension service we will also work with these farmers to test the feasibility of other tropical fruits such as cacao and bananas as self subsistence or potential commercial crops. In addition, we will also grow a large scale field planting of giant taro at the UHH farm to determine the feasibility of this crop as animal feed. UHH has the equipment to process large amounts of material for animal feed.