The Maui News

OHA offers loans to help Native Hawaiian farmers


The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is introducin­g a new program this month that will offer loans to Native Hawaiian farmers who are starting a farm or expanding an existing one.

The Mahi ‘Ai Agricultur­al Loan Program will provide low-interest rates, and new borrowers will have the option of deferring their loan payments for the first six months without incurring additional interest.

“We recognize that it takes time for crops to grow, or livestock to reach a certain stage, before they can generate revenue for farmers, and we’ve taken that into considerat­ion to help ensure our loan recipients are off to a good start,” Aiku‘e Kalima, OHA’s Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan manager, said in a news release Friday. “These loans will not only help Native Hawaiians build strong businesses working in harmony with the land to support their families and provide jobs for others in the community, but also support food security to help Hawai‘i become more resilient.”

OHA offers agricultur­al business loans up to seven years at 4 percent APR for amounts between $2,500 and $100,000 for in-ground or above-ground farming, greenhouse, hydroponic and other types of farming, including raising livestock.

All owners of the business must be of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Loan applicants must be residents of the state and meet stringent criteria, including having a credit score of 600 or higher and a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 45 percent. The business must also be registered with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and be in good standing.

For more informatio­n on the program, visit loans.­al-loan/, email NHRLF@ohaloanfun­ or call the OHA office at (808) 5941835.

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