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Hawaii organic foods industry analysis released

A yearlong study of issues and challenges faced by Hawaii’s organic food industry recently concluded with the issuance of a final report. The report, “Growing Organics: Moving Hawaii’s Organic Industry Forward,” puts forth 58 recommendations to increase organic food production and distribution, improve access to technical assistance, promote producer and consumer education, reduce costs, and foster greater advocacy for certified organic food production in Hawaii, among others.

The Kohala Center, an independent non-profit organization based on Hawaii Island, applied for USDA Specialty Crops Block Development Grant funding through the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to conduct an analysis of barriers inhibiting the availability of certified-organic food produced in Hawaii. The Kohala Center facilitated the project and convened a statewide Organic Industry Advisory Group, comprised of specialty crop producers and other industry representatives and affiliates from across the state, to guide research, data collection, public input, and analysis.

The final report and additional information about the study are available online at http://www.kohalacenter.org/laulima/organic_group.html or by calling The Kohala Center at 887-6411.

A series of public surveys conducted last summer as part of the project made clear that the demand for locally grown, certified-organic produce is high among Hawaii consumers, as well as producers of value-added products. Primary barriers to the availability of fresh, locally grown, certified-organic produce included insufficient transportation infrastructure; availability of affordable, organic-certifiable farmland; high costs of energy and imported agricultural inputs; and scarcity of suitable processing and packaging facilities.

The recommendations contained in the final report span 10 subject areas including representation, processing, farmland, distribution, education and enforcement, and marketing. Existing public and private entities such as government agencies, educational institutions, and inter-island transport companies were identified and correlated with each recommendation based on their potential to create or update programs and services to better support the production and availability of locally grown, certified organic foods in Hawaii.