Reduced prices and yields brought the value of Hawai’i coffee production down last season to a five-year low, according to a government report.
The Hawai’i field office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said farm-level sales of Hawai’i coffee totaled $25.6 million in the 2009-10 season. That was down from $29.6 million in the prior season and was the lowest since $19.9 million in 2004-05. The recent high was $37.3 million in 2005-06.
Farmers harvested 6,300 acres of coffee last season, which was second most in the last six years. But farmers obtained an average $3.20 per pound for their crop, which was down from $3.40 in the prior season and a recent high of $4.55 in 2005-06. Yield also was also relatively low at 8 million pounds of dried beans, down from 8.7 million pounds in the prior season.
Statehood & Business: Hawaii Statehood 50 Years
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
POSTED: August 23, 2009
In 1959, plantation agriculture was big business in Hawaii. The plantations were branching out into tourism, but sugar and pineapple – and coffee in Kona – dominated.
In August, with the days of the territory numbered, a typical issue of The Maui News advertised a total of half a dozen help wanted ads. The plantations didn’t advertise for help; they had their own labor recruitment system.
It dwarfed the nonplantation labor system. In August 1959, pineapple plantations hired 1,100 Maui youngsters on school vacations, most of them to work in noisy, hot canneries.
The jobs were much sought after. Damien Farias, owner of Maui Toyota, recalls waiting for three days on a labor bench for a chance to work at a cannery on Oahu when he was in school.
Statehood was expected to give a boost to agriculture. The summary of Hawaii agricultural history published by the state Department of Agriculture says that "with statehood, federal funds became available for the development and growth of Hawaii’s agricultural industries with funding for programs such as farm credit, natural resources and statistical services."
It did not, of course, work out that way.