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A Vulnerable Food Future for Hawai‘i?

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The recent hurricanes in Texas, the Caribbean and Florida are a reminder of just how vulnerable Hawaii is to disaster. That includes the islands’ food supply. Last year Governor David Ige called for a doubling of food production in the Islands by 2020. But is that a realistic goal? We get more from Pacific Business News Managing Editor Janis Magin.

If disaster were to strike Hawaii, the state is just three days from running out of food. That’s according to Dean Okimoto, who’s president of Nalo Farms and director of the Hawaii Agriculture Foundation.

He’s among the local ag experts who told PBN that security is just one reason why the state needs to increase local food production.

Hawaii farms and ranches currently produce just 10 percent of the food consumed in the Islands. Governor David Ige wants to double that to 20 percent over the next three years.

Local farmers say they face several roadblocks to accomplishing that. A lack of labor, resources such as available land, infrastructure such as water, and technology mean progress has been slow.

But farmers say that’s changing as they try creative solutions to the problems. They also say an effort to grow more fruits and vegetables and locally produced meats and seafood is good for business.

One solution that’s helped Kualoa Ranch grow its production is combining agriculture with tourism. Ranch owner John Morgan says the ranch’s agri-tourism model helps sustain the agriculture activities.

And Kunoa Cattle Company, a company founded just last year, has found a creative solution to finding workers for its meat processing — partnering with local jails.

And the industry as a whole is working to educate the community, so the public understands what’s at stake.

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