by Nick Comerford
CTAHR’s kuleana in the field of agriculture is to teach the science of agriculture to the next generation; to conduct research that improves crop and animal production, and provides solutions to devastating plant diseases and pests; and, through Extension, to share our knowledge and expertise with the Hawaiʻi community in support of local growers.
We graduate scientists who go on to distinguished careers in the private sector and academia. We produce new discoveries and critical data that collectively have resulted in millions of dollars in improved crops and crop management, across the Pacific and globally. Our Extension agents and specialists are ‘in the field’ on a daily basis, working hand-in-hand with farmers, ranchers, small start-ups, and the state’s larger producers. CTAHR impacts Hawaiʻi. The Annual Report provides a close-up look at our hard numbers, programs, and accomplishments.
Recently, the Hawaiʻi Dept. of Agriculture announced the six winners of a new initiative to support the growth of commercial agriculture in our state. This was the result of a continuing collaboration among CTAHR, HDOA, and the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee in the legislature. Our collective goal is to assist established local agricultural enterprises to overcome barriers; to scale-up their operations, to expand markets for Hawaiʻi-grown commodities – and to increase the state’s agriculture gross domestic product. As a pilot project, it hopes to show what the potential of Hawaiʻi agriculture can be, once barriers are removed.
To do so, we must first identify those barriers. In choosing the recipients, we asked applicants to self-identify the barriers and bottlenecks, and explain how their businesses can capitalize and expand, once those barriers are reduced. A call for proposals solicited dozens of projects which were evaluated, ranked, and from which six proposals were selected for grant funding.
We are excited and optimistic about the success of this pilot, and we’re thankful to have strong collaborators and leadership like Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser of HDOA and State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, who appropriated the funds to make this project a reality. A special thanks goes to Dr. Mathew Loke of HDOA who organized and ran the effort. Stay tuned for follow-up articles as the results come in.