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MidWeek Staff

Farming Remains Key To Central Oahu’s Future

Direct from Donovan…Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation recently presented me with its inaugural Champion of Agriculture Award. I was honored and humbled to receive the award as it recognizes an outstanding individual who demonstrates a proven ability to advance the common goals of Hawaii’s agricultural sector.

My continued commitment to agriculture is to have it become a sustainable industry in Hawaii and reduce our dependence on imported produce.

As a former member of the Honolulu City Council, and recognizing that the city did not focus enough attention on the agricultural industry on Oahu, I initiated a measure to establish the Oahu Agriculture Development Task Force to help guide the Council on agricultural issues and help direct city support in perpetuating the importance of farming.

The Oahu Ag Development Task Force continues to actively discuss critical issues facing Oahu farmers and ranchers.

While in the State Senate, I’ve continued my efforts ito provide additional focus on supporting agriculture. I worked on developing the Whitmore Project to help revitalize the economy and agricultural production in Central Oahu. I have elaborated on this project in prior editions of the Central Oahu Islander that the objective is to develop a comprehensive, economically sustainable plan for agriculture.

The Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) at its October meeting designated the Whitmore Project as an ADC project, thereby allowing ADC’s statutory powers to secure needed funding and resources for the project.

We are looking to secure additional funding to acquire existing facilities and infrastructure to support those who will be farming these lands.

With the recent state acquisition of prime agricultural land in Central Oahu, the selection process for awarding long-term leases to farmers who meet the selection criteria has begun.

The ADC board has approved leases for two farms, and the process is continuing. The possibility of long-term leases will enable farmers to obtain needed financing to expand and improve their operations. Hopefully, we will be able to reduce some of the hardships farmers face in trying to maintain a viable operation.

We also hope to see the creation of an agricultural commercial development park that could become a center for agricultural technology.

The state can attract software and manufacturing companies that develop technology and equipment for farmers in the area and across the state.

Another activity we could consider for the region is agritourism, which could include visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation to enjoy, be educated and/or be involved in activities of the function.

When all of this eventually becomes a reality, we hope the project can serve as a model for other rural areas of the state. We hope to encourage a new generation of farmers to live and work in Hawaii where they previously felt the occupation too overwhelming and difficult to pursue.

Call Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz at 586-6090 or email sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov.

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