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.
Maui County Farm Bureau Presents Maui Ag Day
The Maui County Farm Bureau (MCFB) will present the second annual Maui Ag Day with a focus on “Understanding Food Safety Certification” on Friday, Aug. 26, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Company located at 872 Hāli‘imaile Road.
The trade show, panel discussion, tour and parking are free and open to the general public.
The day opens with the trade show and continental breakfast. At 9 a.m., the event will feature a Food Safety Certification Panel Presentation by three Maui farmers who have completed the Food Safety Certification process: Heidi Watanabe of Watanabe Processing, Geoff Haines of Pacific Produce and Brian Igersheim of Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Co. At 10:30 a.m., tour of Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Company facilities and pineapple fields. A Grown on Maui lunch will be provided to MCFB members at 11:45 a.m.; non-members may purchase lunch.
Growing Future Farmers
Ag tourism, marketing leaders are planting, watering seeds of interest with isle students
KAHULUI – At first glance, it’s hard to recognize the plot of land in Kahului filled with weeds, grass and natural debris. On second look, a couple picnic benches come into view and the nearby area, which was once a thriving banana plantation, becomes slightly more discernible.
However – the only thing Pomai and Lani Weigert see at the Maui High School farmland – is potential, acres and acres of it.
The mother-daughter team of ag tourism and marketing leaders are launching a pilot program to revitalize agricultural studies at MHS, Pomai’s alma mater, in hopes of harvesting future farmers and agricultural enthusiasts for Maui County.
As a result of the MHS farm replanting effort that started last month and two days of agriculture field trips, their efforts are already yielding results.
“Ag and food services have never had registration like how they have now,” MHS agriculture teacher Ian Lowland said. “Instantly the word got around: Cool stuff is going on in agriculture. They’ve been an integral part of all of this.”
MHS senior Sarah Bam said she realizes that agricultural skills are important for all people, especially those living in Hawaii: “Everybody should know how to plant and grow their own food.”
Farmers fight Pasha decision
HONOLULU – Worried Hawaii farmers and ranchers told state lawmakers Thursday that breaking up Young Brothers Ltd.’s regulated interisland shipping monopoly could result in higher prices and less locally produced food.
They said the Public Utility Commission’s decision allowing Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines to carry cargo through the islands on a trial basis through 2013 could force rate increases and the elimination of unprofitable shipping routes.
“Loss of farmers and ranchers to increased transportation costs isn’t fear of the unknown,” said Warren Watanabe of the Maui County Farm Bureau. “It will happen.”
Young Brothers plans to appeal the regulatory decision to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, said Roy Catalani, the shipper’s vice president for strategic planning and government affairs. But the company may seek rate increases to sustain its business.
The Public Utilities Commission denied an initial appeal on the eve of Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.
“This has the potential of killing agriculture,” said Dean Okimoto, owner of Nalo Farms on Oahu. “We have to have agriculture on all islands. They have to be able to get their product to this island in an affordable fashion.”
Rain does little to ease drought
The statewide drought appears to be easing as cooler La Nina conditions bring more rain to Hawaii, according to the National Weather Service.
But farmers and ranchers said a protracted amount of rain is needed before they can recover from several years of extremely dry conditions.
Some areas, such as southwestern Kauai and leeward sections of the Big Island and Maui, did not receive significant rainfall in October, continuing extreme drought conditions, National Weather Service officials said Friday.
Late Thursday, thunderstorms along with lightning passed by Hawaii, and most of the anticipated heavy rainfall missed the islands.
The weather service reported 0.15 inches of rain Thursday at Honolulu Airport and 0.6 inches at Lihue Airport but none for airports in Hilo and Kahului.
In October, while many places reported less than normal rainfall, some areas exceeded their normal monthly average, including Haiku on Maui with 5.71 inches — 12 percent above normal — and Honaunau on the Big Island with 5.54 inches of rain, 7 percent above normal.