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Far-East Farming and Floriculture

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 10/28/2014 More stories >>

CTAHR students get their hands
(and feet) dirty harvesting rice alongside their Hong Kong hosts.

CTAHR students get their hands (and feet) dirty harvesting rice alongside their Hong Kong hosts.

Agriculture is an ancient global practice, and international exposure can provide a broader perspective as students enter this venerable profession. Two groups of students recently visited China for the wide variety of experiences that only ag in its many forms can offer.

Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences (TPSS) students David Shepard, Aleta Corpuz, and Flora Chen and their professor Hye-Ji Kim spent two weeks in Beijing, Nanjing, Fu Zhou, and other areas studying horticulture production, joined by other U.S. professors and students interested in the unique challenges and innovations of Chinese agriculture. The students learned that a fifth of China’s arable soil is polluted and cannot be cultivated, but they experienced hydroponic systems and large-scale production factories where they compared Chinese and Hawai‘i practices for familiar products such as anthuriums and mushrooms. Many of the facilities they toured, from biotech companies and agricultural research stations to tea plantations, demonstrated the work that goes into keeping more than 1 billion people fed, utilizing concepts that Hawai‘i’s much smaller but equally land-strapped population and ag producers might do well to heed.

TPSS students, led by Professor
Kim (right), enjoy a two-week tour of China’s agriculture.

TPSS students, led by Professor Kim (right), enjoy a two-week tour of China’s agriculture.

The other international student journey truly embraced the “work” in work-study. Felicia Geronimo (TPSS), Tyler Daguay (Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences), and Miho Fujii and Kelli Zakimi (Food Science and Human Nutrition) joined Sylvia Trinh of Academic and Student Affairs on a 10-day adventure in Hong Kong to learn about farm and food issues. They stayed at a workcamp and traveled to other farms to weed, till, harvest, repair facilities, uproot trees, and aid in pest management. They had the extra challenge of cooking and feeding the group on a budget comparable to that of the average farm worker.

Workcamp participants came from all over the world, so the CTAHR students got to learn about many other cultures and share some aloha with new friends.

As one student reflected, “I learned not only a great deal about Hong Kong’s culture, environment, and economy, but I also learned a whole lot more about myself. Being so far from home, I found out what I truly stood for… I understood myself, my decisions; most important, I became more confident in myself.”

Travel blogs by the students and their advisors:
http://ctahrasao2014hongkong.blogspot.com/
http://aletacorpuz4.wix.com/aletagoesabroad
http://dasheprd.tumblr.com/