LIHU‘E — The Taro Security and Purity Task Force announced last week that it has been awarded a grant of $135,000 a year for two years from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
“We are grateful to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for their unflinching support of this important cause to expand taro production and keep Haloa thriving. They were with us from the beginning and have been consistent in supporting our efforts,” said Glenn Teves, acting chair of the Task Force and taro farmer, in a news release.
The funding will allow the task force to continue to advocate for the needs of taro farmers and the perpetuation of taro growing as well as to facilitate implementation of recommendations put forth in its 2010 Report to the Legislature, titled E ola hou ke kalo; ho‘i hou ka ‘aina le‘ia: The taro lives; abundance returns to the land. The report can be viewed at http://www.oha.org/pdf/TSPTF_Report_091229.pdf
The passing of Act 211 by the 2008 state Legislature established the Taro Security and Purity Task Force as a means of guiding research and improving support for taro, taro farmers and taro markets across a wide spectrum of issues.
Its 18 members include two taro farmers each from O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, and Hawai‘i, and one from Lana‘i, as well as representatives from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, University of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation, ‘Onipa‘a Na Hui Kalo, a statewide organization of taro growers, and a representative for the Hawaiian taro varieties collections.
As a legislatively formed body, the composition of the task force is unprecedented in its majority of seats held by active taro farmers.
The in-depth experience and knowledge of the taro farming community combined with the resources of state agencies and the University of Hawai‘i strengthens the capacity of the task force to revitalize all that taro is and can be again in Hawai‘i — from cultural legacy and ancestor to vibrant economic, food crop, self-sufficiency, the release states.
This shift in focus back to the piko (center) of holistic agricultural practice and local context is cause to hope that future efforts in sustaining and expanding taro production will have a high rate of success, the release states.