Wet season forecast troubling for Hawaii farmers

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Experts said the dry weather will continue for a couple more months followed by wetter than normal conditions through April. This phenomenon has raised concerns for Hawaii farmers who said consumers may also be in for a rough ride.

Farmers said most of the crops they grow can withstand a moderate amount of up to six inches of rain within a 24-hour period. But they worry about the months ahead when forecasters said conditions will be wetter than normal.

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“When you start getting 10, 12, 20 inches of rain in a 24-hour period — that’s when it’s devastating for farmers in agriculture,” said Dean Okimoto, chairman of the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation.

Okimoto pointed out that it takes about a week or two to clean out crops damaged by flood, and some crops can take months to fully replace.

“Some of these things might be papaya trees, for example. Then you’re looking at a year down the road, things like that. So it really depends on what they’re growing at the time,” explained Okimoto.

These issues lead to more cost for the farmers, which then has to be passed down to the consumers.

“With the rising prices that we have right now that they’re already forecasting because of not being able to get any imports, I don’t know how much the general public can stand as far as price raising of even things that they have to eat,” said Okimoto.

He said farmers have endured even more challenges in the past 10 to 15 years brought on by extreme changes in weather.

“The weather patterns have changed so drastically; you pretty much have to build into your farm plan that you’re going to be down for a certain amount of months. You just have to make the money when you can,” Okimoto added.

He also said things will not get any better unless more efforts are taken to counter climate change.

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“I just hope people are cognizant of that and people are looking at ways of putting more greenery into the ground. Whether it be trees, plants and agriculture, it’s very vital to our future,” he said.

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