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by Mariah Schiaretti, staff writer

Consumers including HPU students can help save small farms that are struggling to survive in today’s economy and directly support the farmer by shopping at farmers’ markets across the island.
Farmers’ markets today are at risk because of the current economic crisis. Farmers throughout the state have to deal with rising costs of diesel, fertilizer and supplies to maintain their farms.
Eddie Sybouny a produce farmer from Kahuku thinks that these increases are serious to the survival of small country farms. He predicts there will be at least 100 fewer farms by this time next year because of financial challenges.
“For one acre you need about one ton of fertilizer that costs about $3,000 now, and how much does the small farmer make? About $2000, how can we survive?” he said.
According to the International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development, world fertilizer prices have risen more than oil or any other commodities within the last 18 months.
Because increase in price, Sybouny has tried to make his own fertilizer and supplies, but he says he can’t do much because decrease in income.
Unlike supermarkets, consumers have the opportunity to meet the farmer face to face at farmers’ markets.
Sybouny and his wife Touy have been selling produce like apple bananas, papaya, cherry tomato, and lettuce at the North Shore Country Farmers’ Market for seven years.
“I like to grow my own vegetables and fruit, and I like to sell in the open market straight to the people and talk to the people in my community,” Touy said. “I think our produce is more healthy for them too because it’s fresh.”
At the farmers’ market, the Sybouny’s sell a bag full of cherry tomatoes and big papayas for $2 each. Foodland sells medium sized papayas cut and ready to eat for about $2.29.
The Sybouny’s don’t sell to supermarkets because they don’t get the full profit. “Stores are the middle man,” Sybouny said, “When it says ‘local’ the consumer thinks that they are supporting the farmer but the farmer only gets about 35 cents from every dollar.”
Sybouny feels that something needs to be done to help the small farmers.
“The best way to create awareness to the public is to show them what we have. Let the public see; how farmers work, live, how they make money,” said Sybouny.
“That’s why we sell at the market to build relationships with our customers, so they can meet their local farmers, because it is them that keeps us afloat during these rough times.”


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