Maui farming company, Mahi Pono will lease 15 acres of its West Maui agricultural land to GoFarm Hawai‘i for its successful statewide farmer-development training program aimed at increasing the state’s agricultural workforce.
GoFarm Hawai‘i is an extension program of the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. It operates five beginning farmer training sites across four islands, as well as an agricultural technician training program at the Waiawa Correctional Facility.
Mahi Pono currently owns and operates 41,000 acres of former sugar cane land in Central Maui. It was created in 2018 in a joint venture between Pomona Farming LLC, and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board.
“Increasing food security in Hawaiֲ‘i is our top priority at Mahi Pono and we believe it begins with investing in aspiring farmers. Instilling both the passion and know-how required for success in the agricultural industry is critical,” said Jayson Watts, director of external affairs & strategic initiatives with Mahi Pono.
“CTAHR’s GoFarm Hawaiʻi program is perfectly aligned to meet this challenge, and the 15-acre lease will enable further expansion and progress,” he said.
The 15 acres will be used to support students at GoFarm Hawaiʻi’s Maui project site as they progress through the program’s rigorous hands-on, science-based curriculum and business training. GoFarm Hawaiʻi students independently manage parcels of land and start their own farm businesses. The leased land also includes a farmstand area that will be used as a classroom space and for processing produce.
“We look forward to working with our Maui collaborators and supporting the next generation of farmers,” said Janel Yamamoto, director of GoFarm Hawai‘i. “We will be offering educational opportunities and volunteer days over the next several months and hope to start our first cohort on the new site in the fall.”
The new lease is an extension of the collaborative relationship between Mahi Pono and GoFarm Hawai‘i. During the pandemic, GoFarm Hawai‘i and CTAHR provided free business and production courses to farmers at Mahi Pono’s Community Farm lots.
Together, Mahi Pono and programs such as GoFarm Hawai‘i continue efforts to address the shortage of skilled agricultural workers in Hawai‘i. Advocates say increasing the number of skilled local producers will ultimately lead to less reliance on imported crops and a more secure future for the state.
“The partnership between GoFarm and Mahi Pono will jump start the farmers graduating from the UH program and will increase the number of successful commercial farmers in Hawai‘i,” said Sharon Hurd, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture.
Hawai‘i State Senator Lynn DeCoite from Maui chairs of the Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism.
“As a supporter of agriculture in our state, I am thrilled that the farmer development program is expanding,” she said. “The 15-acre lease not only facilitates the growth of the program, but signifies the dedication to advancing the skilled workforce here in Hawai‘i. This partnership will equip future agricultural leaders with the knowledge and expertise necessary for success in the ag industry.”
Original source: https://mauinow.com/2023/05/12/mahi-pono-announces-partnership-with-gofarm-to-build-mauis-agricultural-workforce/