Kawamata Farms among recipients of Grow Hawaii Agriculture Program funds

Waimea-based Kawamata Farms recently recevied a quarter million dollars from the state to expand operations at the hydroponic greenhouse farm.

The state Department of Agriculture announced June 16 it has awarded funds to six proposals totaling $1.5 million under the Grow Hawaii Agriculture Initiative 2021, a program aimed at assisting established local agricultural enterprises to quickly scale up production and increasing the state’s gross domestic product.

“The program was impressed with the quality of the 45 proposals it received from diverse agricultural businesses,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “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.”

Kawamata Farms, which produces tomatoes and cucumbers, will use its $250,000 to expand its hydroponic greenhouse operation to produce premium ripened on-the-vine Roma tomatoes for local markets.

Consideration for the awards was based on agricultural operations that have demonstrated business success and were in need of urgent funding to expand their commercial production and that have establish business models that can effectively contribute to the growth of agriculture in the state.

This initiative is a collaboration with the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Funds for this program were provided by the 2020 state Legislature.

Also receiving $250,000 were:

• Hawaiian Golden Farm on Oahu and Kauai to expand acreage, automate the farming operation and create new value-added products for local consumption and domestic and international export.

• Zhao Produce Inc. on Oahu to expand Thai and Italian basil production and create value-added products for export to the U.S. mainland and Canada.

• SK Natural Farms LLC on Oahu to establish a small animal harvest unit for hog farmers to address supply chain bottlenecks and increase local pork production.

• Agrefab LLC on Oahu to expand farm operations and scale up an agricultural drying and juicing facility for commodities like turmeric, passion fruit, ginger, moringa, breadfruit, avocado, taro, mamaki, cassava, and coffee cherry.

• Malama Kauai on Kauai to expand the Moloa‘a ‘AINA Center food hub to provide processing facilities, technical assistance programming and expanded aggregation/distribution services for over 100 Kauai farmers, ranchers and food producers.

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