Dear Governor Cayetano,
On Wednesday, April 12, I awoke to a beautiful,
sunny Kaua’i day. After weeks of rain the sun was back in full force. It made
me thankful to be living on such a special Island.
I picked up The Garden
Island to read that “The Senate approved a bill to authorize up to $5 million
in loans to help bolster the sinking Kaua’i sugar industry. …. House Bill
1632, House Draft 3, Senate Draft 1.” It was with relief to also read that you
voice opposition to this loan.
Later during the day I was gazing over the
ocean from the Kukui Heiau, north along Wailua Kai. Across the shimmering sea I
saw plumes of smoke rising from a Lihu’e sugar field. I gave a silent wish and
hoped for something different.
When I see those fields set ablaze it goes
right to my heart. From the very beginning to the very end, the sugar cane
industry does nothing but exploit all of the precious, limited resources Kaua’i
has to offer.
Sugar is an extremely thirsty crop, using a drastic amount
of our island’s water. Because it is grown as a monoculture crop it requires
heavy pesticide and fertilizer use.
When it is harvested, the fields are
burnt sending particles of Kaua’i’s soil soaring through the air blanketing
everything in it’s wake with a fine red haze. Many of our residents and
visitors have noticed respiratory problems after being subjected to this
To the world economy, sugar is considered a “cheap” crop. Why do we
need to support an industry that should have died on this Island long
The new century represents a time of drastic change. Our younger
generation is learning that our most precious resources are being depleted at
an exponential rate. With this education they are also learning about
Loss of fresh water, arable land, and most importantly, habitat
and biodiversity, have put our world economy in jeopardy. These issues did not
exist during the birth of the sugar industry but today have hit us full force.
We can change all of these realities, and the best place to start is our
fertile home we call Kaua’i.
Our island contains the proper infrastructure
to develop Model Sustainable Diversified Agriculture Systems that communities
around the globe can follow. Each side of the island contains a different
environment in which appropriate crops can grow.
There exists a vast array
of crops that will achieve maximum growth on the island, many of which are
presently being grown on private farms. These crops include, but are not
limited to, taro, sweet potato, banana, papaya, avocado, ginger, and
With sustainable land use management we can restore our most
precious resource, our watershed, to resemble what it once was before the birth
of the sugar industry.
Creation of an agriculture market with products to
be sold within the islands will increase the total income for the people of
Hawai’i. Export of tropical produce within the continental United States will
reduce the need to rely on other tropical countries, whose agricultural
practices are currently destroying unexplored rainforest.
agriculture systems combined with organic application, sustainable aquaculture,
and noninvasive agroforestry will prove to be an effective ecological and
economical tool for Kaua’i.
There are thousands of children on this island
with little hope of becoming more than a sugar cane worker or employee of the
service industry. These children can be trained to be effective organic
farmers, biologists, and natural resource managers and achieve a bright future
here on Hawai’i.
What I hope to see on Kaua’i is a shift from monoculture
crops to sustainable diversified agriculture. $5 million is a large sum of our
We can dump it into a sinking economy or apply it to
training, research, education and development of a model sustainable system of
agriculture. This money should be used with great care and consideration of
We have a strong community network on this island but in
order to achieve a model system, support from our elected government officials
is mandatory. We have been given a window of opportunity, please help lead us
to use it wisely.
Stephanie L. Krieger