Many in Hawaii recognize the need for greater food security as Hawaii currently imports approximately 85% of its food, thus its extreme geographical isolation makes it very vulnerable to supply interruptions. In addition, there is broad and growing demand for locally-grown food and in the sustainability implications of reducing imports. Hawaii’s culture and visitor-based economy further support the importance of increasing local agriculture in general, and the green space it maintains. Finally, more agricultural activity can strengthen the economy by keeping money within the local economy and providing jobs.
Despite the interest in, and rationale for, more agriculture in Hawaii, the agriculture industry has struggled due to systemic challenges, including an aging farmer population and shortage of labor. With the current supportive trends of interest in personal and environmental sustainability, locally-produced food, and the responsibility of feeding the world’s growing population, there exists a rare opportunity to grow Hawaii’s agriculture industry by capitalizing on the recent groundswell of people interested in agriculture as a career.
Commonly, however, these “ag-curious” people have little or no experience in agriculture. Their lack of knowledge and experience, along with the limited opportunities for unproven farmers to lease farmland and obtain financing, significantly constrains the number of ag-curious that can successfully make the conversion to become productive, viable agribusinesses.
A number of courses, programs, and organizations have arisen in response to the demand for practical agricultural training, but there is need for a comprehensive program that engages the “ag-curious” and supports their development into commercial/productive growers by providing them with the knowledge, hand-on experience, and facilitated access to land, financing, and markets.
Frequently Asked Questions