Let sugar dieTo the Forum:

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

smoke.

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

ago?

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

solutions.

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

soybean.

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.

Diversified

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

taxpayers money.

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

consequences.

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

Kapa’a

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