Protecting Hawaii's Low Lands – Local Agriculture

Hosted by Dr. Dan Rubinoff from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and colleague Jari Sugano

You haven't eaten Hawaiian style until you've tried poi. It's made from the taro plant and it's been sustaining Hawaiian culture for over a thousand years. For most of that time, taro was an essential part of the Hawaiian diet. It's hard to believe that today, its survival depends on keeping alien plants and animals away from our islands.

Like most diversified farmers in Hawaii, taro farmers face challenges from invasive species. One of the most recent threats is the introduction of the Apple Snail into Hawaii. The Apple Snail is a devastating pest for taro farmers throughout the state because it damages the corm (the edible portion of the plant) as well as the leaves.

Growers for most crops in Hawaii are face similar challenges with invasive species. Many start off innocently, like aquatic animals released from an aquarium or escargot snails released into the wild. Left unchecked, they turn into major issues for agricultural crops such as taro, papaya, macadamia nuts and pineapple.

A single infected fruit or a little dirt in a bag with tiny bugs in it can seriously damage Hawaii's agricultural industry and natural communities. This is one of the reasons Hawaii is so strict about controlling how plants and animals are brought into the state.

They are also good reasons to respect the rules and declare anything questionable you might be bringing into Hawaii with you.

Learn more about these unique islands and what you can do to protect them, visit