“Growing Maui’s Food Future”: Mahi Pono’s Papaya Crop Planted

November 6, 2019, 9:14 AM HST · Updated November 7, 7:19 AM
Wendy Osher · 42 Comments
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*(This is part one in a series of updates relating to Mahi Pono’s progress since purchasing more than 41,000 acres of former sugar cane land in Central Maui in December 2018).

Mahi Pono has planted its first papaya crop in its efforts towards the company’s goal of “Growing Maui’s Food Future.”

The crop is located about a quarter mile away from the company’s first row crop planting of potatoes which went in the ground on 40 acres in August. In addition to potatoes and papayas, the company’s 2019 crop plan includes avocados, papayas, oranges, lemons, limes, coffee and macadamia nuts.

The first papayas were planted on Halloween Day, Oct. 31, with plans to plant up to 10,000 trees on a total of 15 to 19 acres.

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The company has partnered with multiple island nurseries to grow trees from seed.  Company representatives say these particular papayas were grown from seed at Howard’s Nursery in Kula.

The papayas are Non-GMO and are due for harvest in about a year. Plans are to utilize the crop primarily for local consumption.

A company spokesperson noted that 80% of papaya crops were wiped out during the Puna lava flows last year on Hawaiʻi Island.

Darren Strand, General Manager of Farming Operations for Mahi Pono said, “We are working hard to replace imports and take strides towards better food security. It will be a proud moment for me when my kids come home from school and talk about eating Mahi Pono grown fruits and vegetables.”

Mahi Pono crews are actively clearing other fields in preparation for planting. More crops in the works include citrus trees – limes, lemons and mandarin oranges. Another crops scheduled for planting in 2019 is avocados – this is in addition to forage and cover crops that are currently being planted.

In May, the company announced its 2019 crop plan saying Mahi Pono’s long-term plans will include scaling up citrus fruit, coffee and grass-fed beef.

In September, the company released details of its sustainable farm plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement on an East Maui Water Lease that outlines potential crops for approximately 30,000 acres of land utilizing the East Maui Irrigation System.

A 45-day public review and comment period concludes tomorrow, Nov. 7, 2019. Comments can be sent to the approving agency (Board of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaiʻi, Mr. Ian Hirokawa, (808) 587-0400, [email protected], 1151 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, HI 96813); and copy the applicant (Alexander & Baldwin Inc. (A&B)/East Maui Irrigation Company, Limited “EMI,” collectively referred to as “A&B; c/o Wilson Okamoto Corporation, [email protected]) and the consultant (Wilson Okamoto Corporation; 1907 S. Beretania Street, Suite 400, Honolulu, HI 96826 Mr. Earl Matsukawa, AICP, (808) 946-2277, [email protected]).

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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