Categorized | Agriculture

County Ag Plan: Building a local food system

Hamakua Springs Farms is a family-owned operation and provides 60 jobs for Hawaii Island residents. (Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center)

Hamakua Springs Farms is a family-owned operation and provides 60 jobs for Hawaii Island residents. (Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center)


Hawaii Island is home to 64 percent of the agricultural land in the state. According to the Census of Agriculture sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2007, roughly 12 percent of the total farmland on the island was devoted to crop production and 71 percent was pastureland. 

The Rocky Mountain Institute estimates about 85 percent of the food consumed by island residents and visitors is imported from off-island. Hawaii Island, like much of the U.S., is heavily reliant on industrial-style food production which depends on an inexpensive supply of fossil fuel for inputs and long-distance transport.

In order to transition to a more sustainable and secure local food production and distribution system, the county is in the process of updating its Agriculture Development Plan. 

The plan will guide the county in the use of resources to promote the expansion of the island’s agriculture industry. 

It will include objectives that can be implemented in the short-term — over the next five years — and it will identify specific strategies and strategic partnerships necessary to increase farm output of those commodities which have a high probability of gaining a significant share of our local market, similar to what tomatoes have already done.

The degree to which our island is food self-reliant is a function of the supply of locally produced food and, more importantly, the demand for locally produced food. 

To be successful in this effort we will have to alter consumer preferences for locally grown food so that they purchase more of it, which in turn signals farmers/ranchers/dairies to produce more of it, which expands our agriculture industry.  

The county Department of Research and Development has provided funding to The Kohala Center (TKC) to develop the Agriculture Development Plan. Draft 2 of the plan is now available for public review at TKC’s Web site. 

In October 2009, TKC will conduct six listening sessions at locations around the island to solicit public input on Draft 3 of the plan. 

These meetings will be facilitated by Guy Kaulukukui, Hawaii Island Food Self-Reliance Program Director. 

Public comments can be recorded online at the TKC Web site during the month of October. The Final Plan will be presented to the county Research and Development Department and posted online in November.

The sessions are 6-8 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

* Tuesday, Oct. 20, Kohala High School Cafeteria

* Wednesday, Oct. 21, Kona Outdoor Circle

* Thursday, Oct. 22, Waimea Community Center

* Tuesday, Oct. 27, Pahala Community Center

* Wednesday, Oct. 28, Aupuni Conference Room, Hilo

* Thursday, Oct. 29, Paauilo School Cafeteria

* Wednesday, Nov. 4, Pahoa Community Center

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: