On May 24, I’ll be giving a speech in Washington, D.C . to draw attention to farming families in the developing world and the important role they play in cutting hunger and poverty. I need your help in making the case about why small farmers are so important – in fact, I want you to share your best ideas and help spread the word.
Small Farmers Are the Answer
Why farming? Many people don’t realize it, but most of the world’s poorest people are small farmers. They get their food and income farming small plots of land. These farming families often don’t have good seeds, equipment, reliable markets, or money to invest that helps them get the most out of their land. So they work hard, but they get no traction, and more often than not, they stay hungry and poor.
We know that smart investments in farming families help them become self-sufficient. We know that increasing productivity while preserving the environment leads to higher incomes and better lives over the long-term. But governments are not living up to their pledges to provide this kind of support to small farmers.
Solving hunger and poverty is both an urgent problem and long-term challenge. But what gives me hope is that we know that investments are working.
Cellana Inc. said it has begun producing oil from algae grown at its Kona facility and is on track to begin commercial production by 2014.
The Big Island company is harvesting up to one ton of algae a month in ponds at its 6-acre facility at Keahole Point. The company estimates it will be able to grow up to 60 tons of algae capable of producing 3,800 gallons of oil per acre per year.
The oil can be refined into a variety of products, including biodiesel for automobiles and power generation plants. Other uses include animal feed, cosmetics, nutritional oils and industrial chemicals.
Oil-rich algae is considered an attractive crop for biofuel production because of its relatively high yield compared with other crops. Algae can produce up to 11 times more oil per acre than the oil palm nut, the next-highest yielding feedstock, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Algae yields are as much as 145 times higher than soybeans, the department said.
“Over $100 million has been invested to date in our Kona demonstration facility, our algae strains and the process we use to grow, harvest and separate our algae biomass, which puts Cellana on a very short list of leading companies in the emerging algae-based biofuels and bioproducts industry,” said Martin Sabarsky, Cellana’s chief executive office.
Kona-based Cellana LLC has received a $5.5 million federal grant to develop animal feed from algae grown at its facility at Keahole Point.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be combined with $1.6 million raised by Cellana for the project titled “Developing a new Generation of Animal Feed Supplements,” according to a news release from the office of U.S. Sen Daniel Inouye. The project began May 1 and runs through April 30, 2014.
In addition to animal feed, algae can also be used to produce oil that can be refined into a variety of fuel products, including biodiesel that can be burned in automobiles and power plants.
“By developing a cheaper form of animal feed from marine algae we allow our livestock and dairy industry to remain competitive by reducing the amount of revenue they direct to feeding their animals,” Inouye said in the release.
“I would like to laud Cellana’s efforts to move Hawaii away from the use od imported fossil fuels while developing innovative new products form one of our most readily available resources,” he said.
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.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-SIXTH LEGISLATURE, 2011
H .C.R. NO. 300
STATE OF HAWAII
WHEREAS, cacao, derived from the theobroma cacao tree, is the dried and fermented seed from which chocolate is obtained, native to the central and western Amazon region and is widely distributed throughout the humid tropical regions with commercial production concentrated in Brazil, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia and Nigeria; and
WHEREAS, cacao was first introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1850; and
WHEREAS, Hawafi’s environment and climate position it as the only state in the United States that can commercially grow cacao and as the state which is in the closest proximity to both Asia and the continental United States and is ideally located to capture and prosper from the opportunities of a growing cacao market which currently generates $75 billion worldwide annually; and
HONOLULU – The Hawai’i Tourism Authority, in partnership with Hawaii’s four county governments, has selected more than 120 events and projects statewide to receive funding under its County Product Enrichment Program for 2011.
CPEP was created in 2002 to strengthen and diversify Hawaii’s tourism product and provide a quality visitor experience.
Maui County programs to receive money are:
Arts Education for Children Group: Maui Invitational Music Festival and Aloha Peace Festival.
Ebb & Flow Arts: North South East West Festival.
Hana Cultural Center: Aloha Spirit: Tradition of Worship & Music in East Maui Ho’olaule’a.
Hawaii Nature Center Inc.: Earth Week in Iao Valley.
Japanese Cultural Society: Maui Matsuri.
Kapalua Maui Charities Inc.: Kapalua Wine & Food Festival.
Kihoalu Foundation: 20th Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival.
Lahaina Restoration Foundation: The Hawaiian Music Series and Lahaina Plantation Days.
Lanai Community Association: Lanai Pineapple Festival.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts: Summer Under the Stars.
Maui Arts & Cultural Center: Visual Arts Exhibit Program; Na Hoku Hou; Ka Mai Ka Hula; Ukulele Festival; Ku Ka Maka.
Maui Classical Music Festival.
Hawaiian Electric Co. is seeking a company to supply locally-produced biodiesel to power its recently completed 110-megawatt generating station in Campbell Industrial Park.
The request for proposals state’s HECO’s preference for locally-produced biodiesel, but if it isn’t available in sufficient quantities the utility said it would accept biodiesel produced on the Mainland or a mix of the two.
The contract is for three to seven million gallons of biodiesel a year over a three-year period. The contract will replace a two-year deal with an Iowa-based supplier of biodiesel made from waste animal fat. That contract that expires in July 2012.
The Campbell plant is the largest commercial power plant in the world powered exclusively by biodiesel, according to HECO.
included in the RFP is a request to supply 250,000 additional gallons per year for the 8-megawatt Honolulu International Airport Emergency Power Facility which is projected to be in service in summer of 2012.
Invasive species are so pervasive in Hawaii’s low-lying areas that the U.S. Forest Service says it’s not cost-effective or practical to eradicate them all. Instead, it’s launching new research into developing “hybrid ecosystems” that will incorporate some nonnative plants but allow native plants to thrive.
The service has received a $1.6 million grant from the Defense Department’s strategic environmental research program to study the possibility.
“Invasive species are so prevalent. You’re hand weeding, trying to eliminate them and aren’t able to keep up with them. It feels like you’re fighting a losing battle,” said Susan Cordell, research ecologist with the Forest Service. “Restoring these lowland tropical forests to a historic native state is not financially or physically feasible.”
Hawaii’s low-lying native trees and plants were wiped out by cattle, goats and other nonnative mammals that were set free to graze after the arrival of the first Europeans in the islands in the late 1700s. The animals trampled on ferns and undergrowth, drying the soil and tree roots. Later reforestation efforts resulted in the planting of fast-growing nonnative trees like eucalyptus instead of native trees.
To see intact native ecosystems, you have to climb high into the mountains.
Cordell said the grant will allow researchers to find ways for native species to “coexist” with some nonnative species.
A website is being launched for a new program that allows Hawaii residents and businesses to apply to sell their renewable energy to the electric utility.
Hawaiian Electric Co. said today the website will accept applications of those who want to participate in the program, known as a feed-in tariff, which offers pre-established rates and standardized contract terms to independent energy providers.
Hawaiian Electric Executive Vice President Robbie Alm says the program will help the state break its dependence on imported oil through both large and small renewable energy sources.
The website will start accepting applications for Oahu projects at noon Wednesday. Applications for projects on the Big Island and Maui will be accepted beginning Nov. 24.