By Brian Miyamoto, Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau
The Hawai’i Farm Bureau is deeply honored to receive the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resource’s 2021 Ka Lei Hano Heritage Award. HFB is humbled to be recognized among a distinguished list of previous awardees. We also thank CTAHR for acknowledging HFB's contribution as the voice of Hawai’i’s agriculture industry.
The pandemic forced Hawai‘i farmers, ranchers, and nurseries to adapt to very changed circumstances. The majority rely on tourism, hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, farmers’ markets, school lunch programs, and exports – and nearly all of these revenue sources were wiped out. There are 7,328 farms throughout the Islands, and all are important contributors to our economy, our communities, and our self-sufficiency.
HFB adjusted to provide new types of support to the state’s producers to ensure that local food is being produced and delivered to local households and residents. We worked with our local farmers to ramp up curbside delivery practices such as our “Farm to Car” program, home delivery services, CSAs, and partnered with local food banks and non-profit organizations through our “Farm to Food” and BRIDGES (Big Island Rural Agricultural Industries, Distribution and Growing Enterprise Strategies ) programs. These efforts helped farmers and ranchers continue to generate revenue when their normal markets reduced or stopped purchasing their products.
COVID-19 exposed the state’s food security challenges and highlighted the need to strengthen our partnerships and forge deeper connections within our community. HFB’s partnership with CTAHR cannot be overstated. The ongoing outreach and education, especially during difficult circumstances, are unparalleled in the state. Farmers and ranchers relied – and continue to rely – on CTAHR program for their very success. CTAHR has a century-long history of supporting agriculture in Hawai’i, caring for the environment, and enhancing and sustaining ecosystems. CTAHR’s scientific community has been crucial to the development of the agricultural sector. We believe that CTAHR’s mandate to engage in research, instruction, and outreach plays a vital role in the success of Hawai’i’s agricultural industry.