News Release – NR07-15 – July 13, 2007

Posted on Jul 13, 2007 in 2007 News Releases, News Releases

HONOLULU — The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) was notified today that agriculture officials in Japan have approved the import of potted anthuriums from Hawai‘i under specific quarantine conditions.  The approval is a result of a 13-year effort initiated by HDOA to open the Japan market to Hawai‘i anthurium growers. 

Last month, Governor Lingle, HDOA Chairperson Sandra Lee Kunimoto and a Hawai‘i contingent met with officials from the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF) and U.S. agriculture officials in Japan to discuss the import regulations for potted anthuriums.

“This is great news for Hawai‘i anthurium growers,” said Governor Linda Lingle.  “It has been an extraordinarily dedicated effort by our state agriculture officials, their colleagues at USDA and the Japan government to establish this important agreement that will allow our premium potted anthuriums to be sold in Japan.”

HDOA has been working with MAFF to address pest concerns that previously prevented potted anthuriums from being shipped to Japan.  Data and studies have been transmitted over the years to support the initiative and public hearings were held in Japan in May 2007.

“The approval is extremely gratifying for the department, given the significant amount of research, collaboration and negotiations that have taken place over the years,” Chairperson for the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture, Sandra Lee Kunimoto, said.

“We truly appreciate the efforts of the Japan government to work with us in establishing a protocol that is prudent and also practical for Hawai‘i anthurium growers,” Kunimoto added.

Under the Japan-Hawai‘i Burrowing Nematode Certification Program, Hawai‘i potted anthurium nurseries must be certified by HDOA as being free from the burrowing nematode (Radopholus similius), a pest that affects the roots many fruits, vegetables and nursery products, causing malnutrition of the plants.  Specific growing methods are outlined and periodic inspections and testing is also required to maintain the certification. 

Potted anthuriums being shipped to Japan must also be potted in soil-free medium, such as peat, sphagnum, vermiculite and volcanic cinder.  Shipments must also be free of other significant pests.

Officials from MAFF are currently in Hilo meeting with HDOA officials to work out the final details of the import program. 

“Our meetings with MAFF officials here in Hilo are going well and we hope to get the first shipment of potted anthuriums out in mid-August,  said Lyle Wong, Administrator of the Plant Industry Division who has spearheaded the effort since it was proposed in 1994.  “It has been a long haul for the department and as we near the actual implementation our work continues in maintaining the high standards that the program requires.

“There were many people involved in moving the process forward,” added Wong.  “In particular, we would like to thank Ralph H. Iwamoto, of USDA-APHIS International Services, who was instrumental in facilitating the discussions in Japan over the many years.   Also, we appreciate the cooperation of Harold and Eric Tanouye of Green Point Nurseries in Hilo for allowing us to use their nursery to collect data and conduct research.  Without their assistance, we would not have been able to find a workable plan for all the growers in the state.”

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