Waimanalo Taro Thefts Prompt Ag Warnings

State agriculture staff are reminding farmers to secure their crops in light of recent taro thefts from Waimanalo Research Station.

Equally important: Buyers should require paperwork that traces back the legitimate purchase of produce being offered for sale.

County extension agent Jari Sugano said a half-ton of near-harvest, organic taro was taken overnight June 23 (and earlier) from the station’s field. The crop represents the third planting of experimental organic taro from its germplasm collection on Molokai.

In addition to dozens of Hawaiian varieties of taro, the latest theft also represents a loss of months’ worth of research data. (Witnesses should call the police and also the extension office at 622-4185.)

Sugano also thanked “all you wonderful growers who offered to return huli to our station.”

UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), which oversees the Waimanalo station, is circulating tips on preventing ag theft and vandalism. To reduce the market for stolen goods, fliers read in three languages, “don’t encourage sales of stolen commodities, only purchase from growers who supply a certificate of ownership” and much more.