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MidWeek Staff

Whitmore Village Site A Boon For Agri-business

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

Over the years we have heard time and again about the diversification of the agricultural industry, food substantiability and security, and the importance of preserving agricultural land.

Unfortunately, a lack of vision, planning, coordination and not making the proper investments have left the industry limping along. We have not restructured government to appropriately respond to the globally competitive situation that places Hawaii farmers at a severe disadvantage. Because of evolving federal regulations and an increasing number of low-priced imports, some local farmers have abandoned their efforts, and younger generations feel the situation is too overwhelming and difficult to pursue.

Now is the time for us to show and execute leadership to create a successful revenue-generating model for agriculture that we can later template all across our state.

Coined the Whitmore Village Agricultural Development Plan (WVADP), this initiative will enable us to revitalize a disadvantaged community, create jobs and hopefully bring back agricultural dominance to Central Oahu.

With thousands of acres of active agricultural land becoming urban, we must have a comprehensive and strategic plan to turn fallow agricultural land into active and productive farms. This past session, the legislature took steps to build upon the future acquisition of the Galbraith Estate.

The WVADP is an effort to help revitalize the economy and agricultural production in Central Oahu. The main objectives are to:

* Demonstrate that farming is an attractive profession, agriculture is revenue generating, and allow a new generation of farmers the ability to live and work in Hawaii;

* Create synergy and scale resulting in reduced costs of farming and ensuring that supporting systems and activities become efficient; and

* Develop a comprehensive, economically sustainable plan for agriculture that includes farms, packing and processing facilities, distribution systems, infrastructure and water, agritourism opportunities, public-private partnerships and long-term investments.

This plan includes the Agribusiness Development Corporation, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, private-sector partners and local farms.

The State Legislature included $3.6 million in Act 106 (2012) for the purpose of purchasing the 24-acre parcel in Whitmore Village. The property was a hub for Dole Pineapple for more than 70 years, and existing infrastructure and land entitlements allow for the reestablishment of the functions that were once there.

In essence, an agricultural commercial development park would be created. The site will be a “hui” of public-private partnerships and could also become a center for agricultural technology.

The long-term goal for the WVADP is to demonstrate that agriculture can be profitable, therefore, truly sustainable.

The plan in its entirety can be viewed at my senate website at hawaii.gov.

Contact Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz at 586-6090.

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