Each week, we will answer a question from our readers regarding our operations and community outreach in the State of Hawaii. Submit your question by visiting the contact page. Thanks for reading. Mahalo!
Q: I’ve heard that Monsanto Hawaii wants to put smaller farmers out of business. Is this true?
This is absolutely not the case and, in fact, the exact opposite is true. Monsanto Hawaii is 100% focused on agriculture and our mission is to help fellow farmers succeed through the use of innovative practices and tools that empower farms to produce more food, fiber and fuel, while at the same time conserving natural resources and operating more sustainably.
As an agriculture company, we believe we have a responsibility to work collaboratively with our fellow farmers to promote a strong and successful Hawaii ag industry. Some of our efforts to help other farmers throughout Hawaii include:
- The Hawaii Agricultural Foundation Ag Park at Kunia promotes sustainable local farming by making land and other resources available to small local farms growing a variety of produce and other crops. The Park was created through an innovative partnership between Monsanto Hawaii, Island Palms Communities and the Hawaiian Agricultural Foundation.
A nonprofit established three years ago to support farming in Hawaii plans to set up an agricultural park for small farmers in Kunia on land owned by the Army and a private development partner.
The Hawaii Agricultural Foundation hopes to interest 10 or more local farmers in leasing the roughly 200-acre property formerly planted in pineapple and sugar cane.
Lease terms — including rents and the length of leases — have yet to be set, though the foundation aims to have initial tenants on the land by the end of the year, according to Dean Okimoto, a Waimanalo farmer serving as the foundation’s president.
A groundbreaking ceremony at the site is scheduled for today.
The land is part of 2,400 acres the Army and development partner Lend Lease bought in 2008 from Campbell Estate for $32 million, according to property records.
Ann M. Choo Wharton, a spokeswoman for the Army-Lend Lease venture known as Island Palm Communities, said the Army initially planned to expand housing for nearby Schofield Barracks on a small piece of the property. But the Army’s housing needs changed, which prompted the landowners to seek tenants for the whole property.
Monsanto in 2009 leased 1,675 acres for 40 years to grow seed corn. The Army and Lend Lease have 680 acres available for lease and are considering possible renewable-energy uses on another piece of the land, Wharton said.
The roughly 200 acres for the ag park is part of what Monsanto leases. As part of the Monsanto lease, the Army and Lend Lease required that 10 percent of the land be made available to local farmers.