Integrated Pest Management and Pesticide Risk Reduction Among Hawaii's New and Immigrant Farmers.
The rapid decline of the sugarcane industry in Hawaii has created new agricultural opportunities for former plantation workers on Oahu and Hawaii. Most of Hawaii's recent immigrant farmers live on Oahu, close to their markets. One out of five farmers in Hawaii is an immigrant with limited English speaking and reading abilities. Both new and immigrant farmers generally farm less than 4.5 acres. Most farmers rely on pesticides for their pest management even though they may not be able to read pesticide labels. This lack of knowledge (and the means to acquire it) has resulted in an inordinately high percentage of their crops being recalled by the Hawaii Department of Health. In 1997, 10.9 percent of 138 crop samples had either exceeded tolerance levels set for pesticide residues or had illegal residues of unregistered pesticides. The violative rates for non-English proficient farmers was 12 times the national average. At least 75 percent of new and immigrant farmers overuse pesticides and fail to follow recommended pest management practices. In the first phase of the project (September 2000 to November 2001), 26 farmers and pesticide handlers received full training, 31 farmers received IPM and personal protective equipment training only, 101 farm workers were given worker protection safety training and 12 farm pesticide handlers or applicators were given partial training. This continuing project has now targeted an additional 100-120 farmers for on-farm training with a end goal of 90-100 farmers who use their new skills to reduce pesticide applications and adopt at least one agreed to pest management and pesticide risk mitigation practice.
Project goals and objectives
1. Reduce farmer, worker and family exposures to pesticide sprays and residues;
2. Introduce integrated pest management concepts into farming practice to reduce reliance on pesticides;
3. Identify less toxic pesticides or safer ways of using current materials;
4. Ensure that farmers recognize importance of calibrating sprayers to avoid excess applications
Of the 151 growers who signed up for training, 117 received on-farm training. As of April 1, 2003, an additional 83 new and immigrant farmers were using new skills to reduce pesticide applications and had adopted at least one agreed to pest management and pesticide risk mitigation practice. This was close to the proposed target of 90-100 farmers. One-on-one training limited the number of farmers that could be visited in follow-up meetings. The project documented many teaching techniques and tips learned from working with under-served farmers. See website for additional details.