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Moloka’i Farmers Encouraged to ‘Think Like a Papaya’

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Photo courtesy: University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

Molokaʻi farmers are being offered an unlikely piece of advice– “think like a papaya.”

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources hopes the philosophy will help increase the islandʻs market success and foster Native Hawaiian farms.

Extension Agent Glenn Teves made the recommendation to help farmers succeed on Molokaʻi.

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“On a practical level, he means farmers should figure out what they would want if they were papaya plants in order to help their trees flourish in the hot, dry, sometimes inhospitable Hoʻolehua region,” a press release from the university read.

Fellow agent Jennifer Hawkins is also trying to help Molokaʻi organic papaya producers succeed by teaching them to grow more varieties of organic papaya, since Molokaʻi doesn’t have any diseases that could harm the papaya crops.

“Teves’ recommendation reflects a larger holistic philosophy of farming—being at one with the plants and the ʻāina,” the press release continued. 

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“It is a sense of farming that involves working with the crops, the soil, the precipitation and the climate.”

Teves and Hawkins serve in the Beginning Farmer program, which works with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to boost Native Hawaiian farm families through a hands-on, experiential agriculture education program.

“This sense of cooperation is what makes extension work on Molokaʻi unique, not only from the Mainland, but also from other islands, Teves believes,” the press release concluded.

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