Tuesday, February 12, 2008

College of Ag could be relocated to Kunia

Members from the Committee on Higher Education visited the site in Kunia yesterday, where the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) will move their Agribusiness Incubator Program and Poamoho Research Station projects and personnel to if HB3309, HD1, a measure appropriating $250,000 to aid with the relocation, becomes law.

"Locating the Agribusiness Incubator Program at this agricultural business complex will make it easier for start-ups and established businesses to benefit from consulting and product development services they might not otherwise be able to access," said University of Hawaii Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw in a written testimony.

Several agricultural front runners, including the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC), the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii, and the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaii, are interested in co-locating operations to the Kunia site to share business-related resources.

Education Committee Chair Jerry Chang, the legislature representing South Hilo, said that bringing Hawaii agricultural groups together is a once in a life time opportunity.

With the increase of housing developments, farmlands have gradually dwindled. They are under extreme urban development pressure. In Ewa and Kunia, thousands of agricultural acres have already been - or will be - converted to homes and shopping centers.

Rep. Michael Magaoay, D46th (Kunia, Schofield), said, "We need to carry tradition and maintain agriculture in that [Kunia] area." Bringing our agricultural organizations together by creating a business complex for existing businesses to expand and mature, and new business to receive the support needed to develop successfully will help perpetuate agriculture in Hawaii, he said.

Campbell Estate is willing to contribute 119 acres of land, worker housing and office facilities to HARC. Del Monte, Inc., former lessee of the land, stopped producing pineapple in 2006, and will cease all operations in 2008 after the final crop is harvested.

"I'm thankful for Campbell Estate reaching out and HARC stepping forward to keep it [Kunia lands] in agriculture," Rep. Magaoay said.

The measure passed out of the Committee on Higher Education today. It is awaiting hearing with the Finance Committee.

Photo from the Star-Bulletin.

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