Mayor announces Kali Arce and Weston Yap as leaders of new Maui Ag Department
Mayor Victorino announced today the selection of Rogerene “Kali” Arce of Molokaʻi and Weston Yap as Director designee and Deputy Director respectively of the newly created Maui Department of Agriculture.
The announcement was made during a press conference held this morning at Kula Ag Park.
Arce is a Hawaiian homesteader with more than three decades of experience in Hawaiʻi’s agriculture industry, according to the Mayor’s announcement.
The Director designee must still be formally confirmed by the Maui County Council, according to county officials.
Yap most recently served as the Hawaiʻi Produce Safety Program Manager with the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture and has a decade of experience in food production, risk management and safety experience, according to the announcement. The deputy director does not require Council confirmation.
“The County of Maui marks a milestone this month, becoming the first county in Hawaiʻi to open its own Department of Agriculture. The newly formed department will advocate for Maui Nui ranchers and farmers to enhance and increase opportunities to create a sustainable future and build economic resiliency,” according to the Mayor’s office.
The department was formed after voters overwhelmingly supported the effort in 2020.
Under the Director’s leadership, the County of Maui Department of Agriculture will bring the community together to develop and implement programs designed to diversify and expand sustainable forms of agriculture for Maui Nui.
“Putting leadership in place for this new department is an important step forward in restoring a viable, sustainable agriculture economy for Maui Nui and Hawaiʻi,” Mayor Victorino said in a post event press release. “From the start, I directed my administration to ensure that the Department focuses its goals toward being an advocate for agriculture and not to add additional regulations and burdens on farmers and ranchers.”
The County of Maui Department of Agriculture officially launched July 1.
“I am honored to have been selected by Mayor Victorino to lead this newly created department,” said Director Designee Arce. “Today we honor the will of the people and begin the work of creating a truly sustainable agricultural system for Maui County. Mayor Victorino has directed our department to help farmers and ranchers do what they do best — put food on our tables and help us become more self-reliant.”
“I am confident the work of the Department will lead to more locally grown food for Maui residents,” Mayor Victorino said. “To do that, the department will listen carefully to local farmers and ranchers to determine what they need to thrive. For the future of agriculture to be bright in Maui County, we need to mentor our youth and show them that farming and ranching are rewarding careers for their families and the community.”
Advisory Selection Committee Member Bobby Pahia said, “I believe the leadership provided by Rogerene ‘Kali’ Arce and Weston Yap will get agriculture where it needs to go in Maui County. They have the education, experience and determination to oversee the important work of building this new department and make it a voice for positive change.”
The County’s new Department of Agriculture office is located on Kaohu Street next to the rear parking lot of Kalana O Maui (County Building).
For more information, see www.mauicounty.gov/2473/Department-of-Agriculture.