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Energy entrepreneur proposes hibiscus farm at Molokai Ranch

An energy entrepreneur has proposed purchasing the Molokai Ranch and turning part of it into a farm for hibiscus that would be used for bio-fuel.

Andres De Rosa, the CEO of renewable energy company Lamplighter Energy, shared his vision at a community meeting earlier this month, Hawaii News Now reported Tuesday.

Whoever purchases Molokai Ranch will become Hawaii’s seventh-largest landowner. The 85-square-mile property includes two closed hotels, golf courses, cattle pastures and 20 miles of coastline.

De Rosa said 31 square miles would be used to grow hibiscus. Another 8 square miles would be leased to local farmers.

De Rosa’s idea has been met with skepticism by some who say the land should be used to benefit the people living on it.

“What we want to use our lands for is the same thing our ancestors used our lands for and that’s to produce food,” activist Walter Ritte said.

Ritte said whoever buys the property will play a big role in the island’s economic future.

For the past couple months, residents have been coming together to figure out as a community what should happen with Molokai Ranch, Ritte said.

Ritte is asking Lamplighter Energy to give residents six months to come up with conditions under which it would support a sale.

“The previous buyers were from Singapore and they had a whole different outlook at what the future of this island should be,” Ritte said. “That was 30 years of conflict.”

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