The passage of Act 211 by the 2008 Hawai‘i State Legislature established the Taro Security and Purity Task Force. This Act directed taro farmers, agencies and University of Hawai‘i representatives to seek solutions to challenges facing taro, taro farmers and taro markets. Funding and administrative support from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs enabled the Task Force to meet consistently and to gather input from taro growing communities on all islands over a period of 12 months.
This report represents the first time that guidance for taro, taro research, and solutions to problems taro farmers are facing comes from the real experts – farmers – and from the taro itself. It is precisely this perspective that has been missing from the table for decades. The indepth experience and knowledge of the taro community combined with the resources of state agencies and the University of Hawai‘i strengthen and balance the necessary relationships between all stakeholders as we seek to revitalize all that taro is and can be again in Hawai‘i – from cultural legacy and ancestor to vibrant economic and food crop self-sufficiency.
The report contains a critical section called concepts of importance, which includes definitions of taro security and purity, descriptions of the taro farmer life style, the importance of taro to Hawai‘i’s identity, taro as a centerpiece of Hawaiian culture, its role in agriculture, and how current land designations impact on the cultural continuity of taro and its ability to contribute towards food self-sufficiency. These concepts are essential for legislators, agencies, institutions and researchers to grasp prior to engaging in work and decision-making related to taro farming. Understanding what is at risk is critical to re-valuing taro and its role in the wellbeing of the state.
The task force developed 87 recommendations and grouped them according to the following categories: Land; Water; Economic Viability; Biosecurity; Research; Communication, Education, and Public Awareness; and Hawaiian Taro Varieties.