Local startup gets funding from NASA, Air Force; Hawaii Energy helps nonprofits go green; Hawaii's GOP stands by Trump; Ag Conference wants to grow students


Drought has caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage in Hawaii in the past 20 years. A particularly severe event from 2007-2014 was especially damaging to ranching in the state.

Hokuao Pellegrino

Mahi Pono, the Maui agricultural venture, is asking to divert stream water originally sought by the old Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company that it never got. The state Water Commission is hearing the case today – and it could delay dozens of requests from others who have been waiting for years for water from Wailuku streams.


Macadamia nuts are one of Hawaii’s most valuable agricultural products. This year’s harvest is estimated at more than 42 million dollars,  a 22 percent decline from the previous year.

United Soybean Board / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

Stalled trade talks between the United States and China will resume next week in Shanghai. The Treasury Secretary and the U.S. Trade Representative are heading to China, but one group to watch back home are American farmers.

Agriculture Conference; Kauai Water Study; Coral Ko`a Card; Arts Roundup

Matt Barton / University of Kentucky Ag Communications

Gov. David Ige announced vetoes of 18 bills passed in 2019, including one that would have loosened the restrictions on growing hemp in Hawaii. Farmers are frustrated, but the governor says patience is required to stay in line with federal rules.

Courtesy of MA'O Organic Farms

If you shop for fruits and veggies at Whole Foods, Foodland, or the KCC Farmers’ Market, chances are you’ve come across produce from MAʻO Organic Farms. The Waiʻanae farm is about to undertake its largest expansion yet – one that could grow its food production tenfold.

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Farmers and ranchers from across the state met with Governor David Ige and legislators today in an attempt to revive a contentious water rights bill. The group says without House Bill 1326, hundreds of Hawaiʻi’s farmers and ranchers would lose their access to water at the end of the year.



Today officially marks the first day of spring equinox and we dig in on our Hawaii Garden segment to look at the future of orchids. Should we be worried about the decline of the industry?


Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Taro, or kalo as native Hawaiians call it, is making a comeback across the island chain – and not only in rural areas. HPR’s Ku’uwehi Hiraishi introduces us to a taro farmer trying to break through the concrete in urban O’ahu.  

Scot Nelson / Flickr

Today on Bytemarks Café, Burt will find out about the application of blockchain technology in the agriculture industry. He'll talk to the organizers of the IEEE Blockchain for Agriculture Forum, and learn how blockchain can help address issues with food traceability, safety and counterfeits.

Osiristhe / Flickr

Coffee farmers on the Kona Coast are seeing harvests with as much as a 40% reduction in crop yields. It's been a year filled with natural disasters and many farmers are just now learning the effect that all of the hurricanes, floods, and volcanic activity had on their crops. Many cite the heavy emissions of sulfur dioxide and ash from Kilauea volcano as the main culprit for the lackluster growing season.

U.S. Geological Survey

The eruption of Kīlauea earlier this year destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes. Lava also swept through more than a thousand acres of farmland. 

Smart Yields

Smart Yields is a 3-year old local tech startup with the goal of helping farmers work smarter. They're using 21st Century sensors and apps to give farmers better insight on ideal harvest dates and plant health. With recent funding from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, Smart Yields is now trying to make it easier for local farmers to comply with food safety standards.  

OK Farms

Hawaiʻi Island is still drying out from record-breaking rainfall it received during Hurricane Lane. But as HPR’s Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi reports prolonged wet weather could have a lasting impact on Big Island farmers.


Economic Impacts of the Volcano; Fast Moving Lava Appears; Agriculture Theft on Hawaii Island; Hawaii Youth Symphony Seeks New Direction

The Conversation: Friday, May 18th, 2018

May 18, 2018
Ryan Finnerty

City Responds to Dockless Scooters; Eruption Increases Uncertainty for Farmers; EPA Examines Cesspool Challenges; Miss Aligned 2 Anthology

Bytemarks Café: Hawaiʻi's First AGathon

Jan 24, 2018
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

  Today on Bytemarks Café, Burt and Ryan will talk to a couple of the teams that won at the recent AGathon.

They'll talk about how Hawaiʻi's first "ag hackathon" brought together members of the tech community to help solve some of the most challenging problems of the state's agriculture industry.

Bytemarks Café: 21st Century Agriculture

Dec 27, 2017
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

  Today on Bytemarks Café, the guys will learn about Hawaii's agriculture industry, the challenges it faces and how farmers can stay competitive in the 21st century.

Burt and Ryan will talk to key ag stakeholders to find out how technology can play a role to help Hawaii become food self sufficient.

Tis’ the season to buy local. Campaigns encouraging holiday shoppers to support local businesses are in high gear. But for one of Hawai’i’s few remaining locally-owned grocery chains “buy local” is a year-round effort, and has been for nearly three decades. What started out as a strategy to help the local workforce transition after sugar plantations started shutting down has now become one of the most successful buy local campaigns in the islands. HPR reporter Ku’uwehi Hiraishi has this story.

Wikimedia Commons

Agriculture theft has been a problem on Hawaii Island for decades.  From a South Kona farmer whose coffee beans have repeatedly been stolen off her trees to the recently created position of County Agriculture Crimes Investigator, this series explores the people impacted by agriculture theft across Hawaii Island. 

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Researchers at the University of Hawaii are looking for volunteers to collect data on breadfruit, or ʻulu, trees throughout state.

A Vulnerable Food Future for Hawai‘i?

Sep 15, 2017
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.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Demand for farm land is so great in Hawai‘i, Aloun Farms is trying to speed up its sale of acres in Central Oahu. Pacific Business news editor in chief A. Kam Napier, has more.

creative commons
creative commons

People around the nation and world are using development as a community organizing tool.  Change becomes a reason to work with others and improve their neighborhoods.  Now, the UH Mānoa Architecture School is convening designers, government leaders, and community members to inject fresh ideas into Honolulu’s development plans.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports on the Building Voices Symposium and Design Competition set for Earth Day, April 22nd .

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

  Today on Bytemarks Café, we’ll get an update on the XLR8UH Accelerator program and learn how it’s evolved. We’ll also hear from two companies in the latest cohort who are focused on the agriculture sector and find out what makes this sector so popular.

In Kakaako, A Growing Urban Farm Reaches New Heights

Dec 27, 2016
Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

Between the high rise buildings and industrial warehouses, a farm is the last thing you’d expect to find in urban Kaka‘ako. But one business is creating a space for growing food in an unexpected way.

Rep. Richard Creagan Facebook
Rep. Richard Creagan Facebook

When Hawai‘i’s legislature convenes its next session in January, the state House of Representatives will have a new chair of the Agriculture Committee. Former chair Clift Tsuji of Hilo died earlier this month, and the new chair is also from Hawai‘i Island. He recently spoke to HPR contributing reporter Sherry Bracken about some of his policy priorities.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

We’ll find out how the State and startup community are looking to leverage tech in the AG sector. We’ll explore how tech can disrupt (improve) the agriculture supply chain from the growing, to storing, to the delivery of product to the market.