Mahi’ai Scale-Up: Kamehameha Schools encourages farmers to expand operations

Sponsored by Kamehameha Schools

‘Ᾱina is a such a key element in the Hawaiian culture, and half of Kamehameha Schools lands are designated for agriculture. This is why it has launched the Mahi’ai Scale-Up, a business competition encouraging farmers to expand their operations.

“‘Ᾱina supports the vision of our founder, Ke Ali’i Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who saw education as the key to Native Hawaiian well-being,” says Lead Assets Manager Leanne Okamoto.

Kamehameha Schools agricultural lands produce an estimated 18 million pounds of food – coffee, macadamia nuts, asparagus, mixed greens, cattle, kalo, sweet potato, and more. The school dedicates more land to diversified agriculture than any other private landowner in Hawaii.

“So we are heavily invested in stewarding agricultural land and supporting farmers, which is where the idea for the original Mahi ‘ai Match-Up and then subsequently Mahi ‘ai Scale-up came from,” she explains.

In 2014, Kamehameha Schools created Mahi’ai Match-up, an agricultural business plan competition in which the winner is awarded a land agreement with Kamehameha Schools and a cash prize. This support was then taken to the next level by developing Mahi ‘ai Scale-up, which awards a cash prize for the best business plan that details the expansion of farming operations or a “scale-up.”

This year’s Mahi’ai Scale-up seeks to improve Hawaii’s food resiliency and security. With nearly 90 percent of Hawaii’s food being imported, the global pandemic has shown the critical need to grow enough food locally to feed our community.

“There is no better time than now to support food self-sufficiency in Hawaiʻi by investing in scaling existing producers and aggregators,” Okamoto says.

In contributing to Hawaii’s food systems, Kamehameha Schools is engaging in partnerships to increase the productivity and resiliency of agricultural related businesses on school ‘āina and across Hawaii, including building consumer interest in locally grown foods and services.

The Mahi’ai Scale-up competition is inviting established farmers, distributors, processors and aggregators to submit proposals that will expand their businesses in new and creative ways. To apply or for more information, go to Deadline to apply is February 12. If you have questions or are interested in being a sponsor, email

For more information:, or on Facebook and Instagram: @kamehamehaschools

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