Two local food banks are sharing in the fresh bounty of a new crop from a Maui farm.
Mahi Pono LLC on Friday donated nearly 30,000 pounds of red, white and yellow potatoes to distributor Hawaii Foodservice Alliance in Honolulu for subsequent delivery to Hawaii Foodbank outlets on Oahu and Kauai.
The potatoes were planted in August by the company, which bought 41,000 acres of former sugar cane plantation lands in 2018 from Alexander & Baldwin Inc. and aims to make the starchy staple a major “signature” crop in Hawaii.
Darren Strand, Mahi Pono’s vice president of agricultural development and business outreach, said the initial potato crop was a success and allowed the company to test different varieties, irrigation, harvesting, washing and other facets of production.
“They’re great potatoes,” he said.
Mahi Pono anticipates it will begin commercial potato harvests to initially supply stores and other customers on Maui in mid-February.
Strand said the company expects to produce about 50,000 pounds of potatoes a week, and that some of this amount will go to markets on other islands to put a “significant dent” in the imported supply of the same type of potatoes. Mahi Pono also plans to expand its potato farming in the long term.
Since the test planting began in August, Mahi Pono also has planted about 120 acres of citrus trees and 20 acres of non-GMO solo papayas.