Albert Perez, executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, commented on today’s announcement that A&B is transitioning out of farming sugar and will instead pursue a diversified agricultural model for its 36,000-acre Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company plantation on Maui.
“The Maui Tomorrow Foundation has been concerned about the viability of sugar operations some time now,” said Perez.
“We have been encouraging HC&S to adopt cleaner harvesting practices and/or alternative crops that would not have adverse health impacts on Maui¹s growing population,” he said. “We are concerned for the HC&S employees and for their suppliers who now need to go through this sudden transition. We just wish that A&B had listened earlier to people who were advising them to switch to something more sustainable and profitable than sugar, so there wouldn’t have had to be layoffs.”
“In light of Alexander & Baldwin¹s last two quarterly reports, the most recent of which showed that its agricultural operations lost almost $10 million, it was clear that there would be a change soon.
“As a result, we have been doing research on alternative, sustainable agricultural uses for the land that would employ thousands of people, help the ‘āina to recover from decades of chemical agriculture, provide Maui with sustainably grown food and fuel, and keep Central Maui green.
“It is now clear that we must accelerate our efforts even further,” Perez added. “We look forward to sharing what we have learned to facilitate this transition.
“Hopefully, A&B will consider giving land to their employees to farm, instead of just leasing it to them,” he said. “Also, it will be essential for these employees to have training in how to run their own farming businesses, so that they can succeed.
“Finally, the rest of us can play an important part and support our local farmers by buying locally-produced, organic food,” Perez concluded.
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A&B/HC&S to Transition Out of Sugar Production