By Sonia Isotov
The University of Hawaii has been selected to receive $49,970 in grant funding to help conduct a feasibility study for UH Maui College’s (UHMC) Food Innovation Center.
The announcement was made by Chris Kanazawa, the Hawaii state director of USDA Rural Development.
“The Rural Development funding to support the Food Innovation Center is really a support for the development of sustainable agriculture, ranching, and small businesses on Maui” said Kanazawa, in a written statement.
“Building capacity and expanding skill sets in farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs are the fundamental building blocks necessary for successful businesses.”
The funding is being provided through the USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program.
The Rural Business Opportunity Grant provides funds to private non-profit corporations, public bodies, federally recognized Native American Indian Tribes, and/or cooperatives for economic development planning, and technical assistance or training. Its goal is to promote sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs.
In 2007, Maui County Farm Bureau advocated the development of a local facility to assist farmers and ranchers, local agricultural cooperatives, and small entrepreneurial businesses turn their fresh produce into value-added products.
These products would help increase the profit margin for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses, and stabilize their business since the price of value-added products do not fluctuate as widely as fresh produce, and they could also make use of culls.
The UHMC Food Innovation Center will also be a place for research, development, professional mentoring services, and shared-use food processing on Maui.
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