Agriculture is deeply rooted in Maui history and will continue to be an important industry from an economic, social, and environmental perspective. Although the face of Maui agriculture has evolved over the years, the important role it plays in the islands economy, environment, and way of life remains consistent, if not increasingly significant in the light of steady growth and expanding urbanization. Agriculture will continue to gain importance in shaping the form of future growth on Maui.
A strong agricultural sector is an important component of a balanced, diversified, and sustainable economy. Agriculture is an integral element of Maui’s economy, and community, cultivating a diversity of jobs, generating tax revenues, and producing a variety of crops for different local and export markets.
These key challenges include urban development pressure, availability of affordable water for irrigation, competition with mainland and international commodity products, high inter-island transportation costs, and shortage of farm worker housing.
In order to support the viability of agriculture and maintain it as a vital component of Maui’s economy, key challenges will need to be addressed. The many grants awarded to various agriculture organizations proves that Maui County is making every effort to be proactive in keeping agriculture viable.
Agriculture Industry Challenges
The Department of Agriculture recognizes the challenges facing our agriculture industry. These challenges include:
- Low yield on investment forcing farm closure on plantations and small farms
- More stringent safety and health regulations
- Increased competition from other growers (both nationally and internationally)
- The need for greater business acumen and utilization of technology coupled with increased marketing efforts
The farmers / growers are realizing their need to do more research into niche marketing and the need for consistency and quality with their own products. The Department of Agriculture aims to provide opportunities for networking and education for the agriculture community by giving a grant to the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources to do research and giving farmers a technological edge on developing new products and marketing strategies. The Department of Agriculture is also stressing the need to buy local with it’s partnership with the Maui County Farm Bureau on its “Grown on Maui” campaign.