Farm­ing Re­mains Key To Cen­tral Oahu’s Fu­ture

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Central Oahu Islander -

As a for­mer mem­ber of the Honolulu City Coun­cil, and rec­og­niz­ing that the city did not fo­cus enough at­ten­tion on the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try on Oahu, I ini­ti­ated a mea­sure to es­tab­lish the Oahu Agri­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment Task Force to help guide the Coun­cil on agri­cul­tural is­sues and help di­rect city sup­port in per­pet­u­at­ing the im­por­tance of farm­ing.

The Oahu Ag De­vel­op­ment Task Force con­tin­ues to ac­tively dis­cuss crit­i­cal is­sues fac­ing Oahu farm­ers and ranch­ers.

While in the State Se­nate, I’ve con­tin­ued my ef­forts ito pro­vide ad­di­tional fo­cus on sup­port­ing agri­cul­ture. I worked on de­vel­op­ing the Whit­more Project to help re­vi­tal­ize the econ­omy and agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion in Cen­tral Oahu. I have elab­o­rated on this project in prior edi­tions of the Cen­tral Oahu Is­lan­der that the ob­jec­tive is to de­velop a com­pre­hen­sive, eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able plan for agri­cul­ture.

The Agribusi­ness De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (ADC) at its Oc­to­ber meet­ing des­ig­nated the Whit­more Project as an ADC project, thereby al­low­ing ADC’s statu­tory pow­ers to se­cure needed fund­ing and re­sources for the project.

We are look­ing to se­cure ad­di­tional fund­ing to ac­quire ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties and in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port those who will be farm­ing th­ese lands.

With the re­cent state ac­qui­si­tion of prime agri- cul­tural land in Cen­tral Oahu, the se­lec­tion process for award­ing long-term leases to farm­ers who meet the se­lec­tion cri­te­ria has be­gun.

The ADC board has ap­proved leases for two farms, and the process is con­tin­u­ing. The pos­si­bil­ity of long-term leases will en­able farm­ers to ob­tain needed fi­nanc­ing to ex­pand and im­prove their op­er­a­tions. Hope­fully, we will be able to re­duce some of the hard­ships farm­ers face in try­ing to main­tain a vi­able op­er­a­tion.

We also hope to see the cre­ation of an agri­cul­tural com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment park that could be­come a center for agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy.

The state can at­tract soft­ware and man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies that de­velop tech­nol­ogy and equip­ment for farm­ers in the area and across the state.

Another ac­tiv­ity we could con­sider for the re­gion is agri-tourism, which could in­clude vis­it­ing a work­ing farm or any agri­cul­tural, hor­ti­cul­tural or agribusi­ness op­er­a­tion to en­joy, be ed­u­cated and/or be in­volved in ac­tiv­i­ties of the func­tion.

When all of this even­tu­ally be­comes a re­al­ity, we hope the project can serve as a model for other ru­ral ar­eas of the state. We hope to en­cour­age a new gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers to live and work in Hawaii where they pre­vi­ously felt the oc­cu­pa­tion too over­whelm­ing and dif­fi­cult to pur­sue.

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