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6 Hawaii businesses awarded $250K each to ramp up agricultural production

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Six agricultural businesses have each been awarded $250,000 through an initiative under state Department of Agriculture to quickly increase local agricultural production.

The DOA, in collaboration with the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, was provided $1.5 million from the state Legislature last year for the Grow Hawaii Agriculture Initiative 2021. The goal of the program is to allow six chosen businesses to ramp up their agricultural production.

“The program was impressed with the quality of the 45 proposals it received from diverse agricultural businesses,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairwoman of the Board of Agriculture, in a statement. “The proposals were awarded to businesses with proven track records of success and that have demonstrated the ability to significantly increase agricultural production and expand markets for Hawaii-grown commodities.”

Three of the awarded businesses — Agrefab LLC, SK Natural Farms LLC and Zhao Produce Inc. — are based on Oahu. Kawamata Farms is based out of Hawaii County, and Malama Kauai is on Kauai. Hawaiian Golden Farm is on Oahu and Kauai.

The proposals for the six $250,000 awards varied.

Agrefab will use its money to “expand farm operations” and scale up its agricultural drying and juicy facility, while Kawamata Farms plans on expanding its hydroponic greenhouse operation to produce Roma tomatoes.

Malama Kauai will use its award to expand its Moloaa AINA Center food hub to provide processing facilities and aggregation and distribution services for more than 100 Kauai farmers, ranchers and food producers.

SK Natural Farms will “establish a small animal harvest unit” for hog farmers to increase local pork production and address supply chain bottlenecks.

Hawaiian Golden Farm has plans to expand its acreage and automate farming operations while creating value-added products to be sold locally and exported elsewhere. And Zhao Produce will expand its Thai and Italian basil harvest and also create value-added products both for local use and export.

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