Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) is native to Central and South America and has been cultivated since prehistoric times in Mexico. For cacao production to be profitable in Hawaii, high tonnage and superior quality are required. However, Hawaiian cacao plantings are variable in both quality and yield, and are not necessarily adapted to Hawaii’s growing conditions. The genotypes of these trees are unknown, and growers are not able to identify the types of cacao trees on their farms. Through the use of DNA marker techniques, we are now able to Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. of superior cultivars based on their parentages/pedigrees. By the use of simple sequence repeat DNA markers, many individual trees have been fingerprinted. The survey group was found to include Criollo, Trinitario, Forastero and their hybrid types, plus genetically unique trees. The large genetic variation among Hawaii’s cacao trees currently grown here suggests it may not be necessary to import additional cacao genotypes to supplement locally available germplasm. The existing variation allows us to select and produce superior genotypes specifically suited for a grower’s production environment.
Some 14 Hawaii Island farmers, ranchers, food purveyors and ag entrepreneurs were among the “Heroes of Agriculture, Food and Environment” honored at the Hawaii Agriculture Conference held Sept. 23-24 at Ko’Olina, Oahu.
Ag conference organizers began polling the agriculture community in August, seeking nominations in seven categories. A review team then selects the winners based on the write-ups submitted.
“We were looking for the behind-the-scene heroes, the humble leaders,” said Kim Coffee-Isaak, executive director of the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii.
The 2010 Heroes of Agriculture, Food and the Environment are:
Potential exists to turn state’s renewable-energy needs into a cash crop
Hawaiian Electric Co.’s search for long-term suppliers of biofuels derived from local feedstocks stands to ignite a new form of agriculture in Hawaii.
But major challenges lie ahead for both the utility and potential producers.
Acres of fallow pineapple and sugar fields across the state potentially could be converted to high-oil-yielding plants such as jatropha, soybean and microalgae.
The utility says it is interested in buying enough biofuels to run its power plants on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island.
Clean-burning biofuels are attractive to HECO because they can be used in its existing generators, which currently run on liquid fossil fuels including bunker oil and diesel.
“We’ve talked and talked about biodiesel in Hawaii, and now we can guarantee that we’ll purchase their products down the road, so we’re looking for people to make proposals,” said HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg. “If we’re going to get to the state’s mandate of 40 percent renewables by 2030, which is just 20 years away, a chunk of that will have to come from biofuels. The best situation would be one where the feedstocks are grown here.”