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Mahi Pono Announces Maui Crop Plan for 2000 Acres

May 8, 2019, 9:25 AM HST · Updated May 8, 9:31 AM
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Mahi Pono, LLC, today announced its 2019 crop plan, which includes different varieties of produce that are scheduled to be planted on approximately 1,500 to 2,000 acres of land in Central Maui.

Former sugarcane lands in Central Maui. PC: Alexander & Baldwin.

“This plan represents the first crops that Mahi Pono will plant in Hawai‘i,” said Shan Tsutsui, Senior Vice President of Operations for Mahi Pono. “We are excited to return the land back to active agriculture production and provide more fresh produce options for local consumers with export potential. In addition, we will soon be launching our community farming initiative that will provide opportunities for small local farmers to grow a variety of crops and bring them to market across the islands.”

The first crops to be planted include: avocados, bell peppers, potatoes, papaya, guava, līlīkoi, white pineapple, oranges, mandarin oranges, lemons, limes, coffee and macadamia nuts, as well as cover crops such as alfalfa. Mahi Pono’s long-term plans will include scaling up citrus fruit, coffee and grass-fed beef, according to company executives.

Responsible water usage

For 2019, East Maui Irrigation Co. estimates its water usage at approximately 30 million to 35 million gallons per day. According to Mahi Pono, the total amount includes water used by approximately 35,000 upcountry Maui residents served by the Maui County water system, Mahi Pono, and other water users served by EMI.  “This level of water use remains well within the Hawai‘i Commission on Water Resource Management’s 2018 decision related to Interim Instream Flow Standards for East Maui,” executives said in a press release.

“Mahi Pono is 100% committed to honoring the IIFS decision that establishes long-term protection of Maui’s water resources, native Hawaiian traditional and cultural practices and the natural habitat of Maui’s streams,” said Tsutsui. “The stewardship of the East Maui watershed and stream flow are very important issues for our community and the future of our islands.”

Restoring natural streams

In accordance with the IIFS decision, Mahi Pono/EMI reports that it has restored much of the stream flow in taro-growing communities, with some construction remaining to completely close off a few of the diversions that have been in place for more than 100 years.

According to Mahi Pono, restoration of natural stream flow has been completed for MakapipiWaiohue, West Wailuaiki, East and West Wailuanui, Honopou, and Waiokamilo streams. Continued efforts to restore Palauhulu, Piinaau, Hanehoi and Puolua are currently in progress, with additional construction work and permitting pending. Weather permitting, the remaining work is scheduled for completion within the next 12 to 24 months.

To complete the restoration of the remaining streams, modifications are required to current diversion structures. Currently, Mahi Pono/EMI has completed work on 29 diversions and secured permits to modify or permanently abandon another 30 diversions, with approval of the additional remaining 11 diversions under review by the Commission.

“While we estimate that it may take up to 24 months or longer to complete construction and receive the appropriate permits for the restoration of the remaining streams, we want to thank the community for its patience as we move forward to complete this long-awaited project,” said Tsutsui.

In 2018, Mahi Pono purchased approximately 41,000 acres of land in Central Maui from Alexander & Baldwin. Mahi Pono says this purchase ensures the continued use of these lands for agriculture, the preservation of green, open space in Central Maui, and a consistent and long-term source of revenue for the local economy.

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