On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a grant initiative that will help the University of Hawaii at Manoa Cooperative Extension engage with farmers in their native languages and provide agriculture resources.
Funding for the project comes from the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. The university also partnered with GoFarm Hawaii and the Oahu Agriculture and Conservation Association on the project.
Through the grant, professional interpreters or hired native language speaker outreach is provided to Thai, Lao, Ilocano, Chinese, and other immigrant farmers. Partners offer workshops on production and business management, farmer resource fairs, and farm consultations and visits.
In addition, multilingual resources, such as technical assistance videos and bilingual templates for efficient record-keeping, are also under development. According to the USDA, this will help farmers succeed in conversation, agriculture production, and agribusiness.
Emilie Kirk, assistant extension agent at the University of Hawaii in Kauai, found that her knowledge of the Thai language helped her work with the immigrant Thai farming community.
“University of Hawaii Extension has been working to support disadvantaged farmers in different capacities over the years, and this 2501 grant helps us connect farmers to services according to their needs,” Kirk says. “Building relationships and trust takes time, and is facilitated through engaging with communities in their native languages. We recognize the importance of providing practical information to farmers, and we want our programs to reflect the beautiful diversity of people in the ag community here.”
The program application deadline is July 25.