Last year marked a sixth consecutive year of dramatic growth for Hawaii seed crop producers, according to a recent government estimate, though the industry dominated by seed corn may be nearing maturity.
The Hawaii office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported the value of the local seed crop industry rose 26 percent to $223 million in 2009 from $177 million the year before.
The gain further ingrains seeds as Hawaii’s largest crop by value, a spot seeds have held since pineapple was dethroned in 2006, though other crops contribute more to the local food supply and commercial sales.
Industry observers expect the strong pace of expansion, which began five years ago after hovering around $50 million for several years before that, will begin to cool as the industry matures.
Last season’s big jump reflected expansion of operations by some producers after large land acquisitions in recent years that allowed the companies to build up research and farming, according to Fred Perlak, president of the industry’s trade group, the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.
“I think what you’re seeing here is the maturing of the acquisitions in the last two or three years,” said Perlak, who is also vice president of research and business operations for Monsanto in Hawaii.
Since the demise of pineapple and sugarcane, the seed industry has helped diversify Hawaii’s economy and kept important ag lands in agricultural production by investing millions of dollars into failing infrastructure such as roads, buildings and irrigation.
Not only does this ensure that those farmlands remain productive for future generations, but the investment has saved small farmers and the state from having to pay for those improvements.
While we applaud the Sierra Club for turning its attention to food security (Name in the News, Star-Advertiser, Oct. 22), the comment by Robert Harris that farmers are having difficulty finding land to farm “because it’s all being used for seed corn” is a gross misstatement.
The agricultural biotech industry, which includes seed corn research companies, operates on only 5 percent of the available prime agricultural lands in the state. Of those acres, approximately 8,000 are actively used for crop production, which conserves water and results in a smaller environmental footprint.
Recognizing the difficulty of farmers to secure land, many seed companies now collaborate with farmers to put new and displaced farmers back on agricultural land at affordable prices. Farmers large and small are growing a variety of crops side by side, and many now even supplement their income by growing seed crops. In addition, seed companies lease land to cattle ranchers, who are another important part of Hawaii’s food security picture.
Economic Strength of Hawaii Seed Crop Industry Confirmed by Recent Reports
The seed industry’s significant contributions to the state’s economy were confirmed by two recent economic reports issued by the Hawaii Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and well-known Hawaii economist Dr. Leroy Laney.
Honolulu, HI (Vocus/PRWEB ) September 22, 2009 — The seed industry’s significant contributions to the state’s economy were confirmed by two recent economic reports issued by the Hawaii Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and well-known Hawaii economist Dr. Leroy Laney.
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Sep. 18, 2009
The public is invited to take an up-close look at some exciting research and outreach activities in Hawai‘i agriculture.
Who: UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR)
What: Will host its 20th Waimanalo Research Station Field Day
When: Saturday, September 26, 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Waimānalo Research Station, 41-698 Ahiki Street
Visitors will have the opportunity to see:
* corn field trials.
* Kapi‘olani Community College’s Culinary Program.
* organic pepper and eggplant field trials.
* biotechnology outreach program.
* taro varieties collection (over 90 varieties).
* plumeria tree collection.
* cacao project.
* biofuel project.
* USDA erosion control project.
The public is encouraged to bring water and wear appropriate footwear, sunscreen, comfortable loose fitting clothing and hats for sun protection.