Agriculture like Hawaii’s aborigines may increase the state’s meals provide, ”Yale Local weather Connections

Hawaii imports more than 85% of its food. When extreme weather disrupts shipping, it can have dire consequences for the state.

“You just grow up knowing that … we only have food on the shelves for a week and if the barge doesn’t come we’re in big trouble,” says Natalie Kurashima.

As a graduate student at the University of Hawaii, Kurashima investigated whether indigenous farming practices could help reduce this food insecurity, especially as the climate changes.

“I’ve always asked myself,” says Kurashima, “how can we learn from our ‘ike kūpuna, our ancestral knowledge, in order to tackle Hawaii’s sustainability problems today?”

She says that before colonization, indigenous farmers grew crops in areas that people no longer have today. They cultivated terraced land that had to be flooded during cultivation and grew root vegetables under banana and coconut trees.

These methods were productive. Kurashima’s study suggests that they could have produced enough food for 86% of Hawaii’s current population.

If implemented today, indigenous farming practices could make Hawaii’s food system more resilient to extreme weather and help the state sustain itself in the future as it has in the past.

Credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media.

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