Lack of water source stalls state farming initiative

Lack of water source stalls state farming initiative
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Four years after the state acquired 1,200 acres of farmland in Central Oahu, most of it sits unused.

The state Agriculture Development Corp. bought the land with the idea of preserving former pineapple lands for diversified agriculture and small farmers.

But so far, only about 200 acres --  less than 15 percent -- is being used for farming. The rest is lying fallow.

"We have dumb projects like this. They sound good, we're going to help people but the state should not be in this business because the state does not do a good job," said state Sen. Sam Slom (R) Hawaii Kai.

James Nakatani, executive director of the state Agriculture Development Corp., blames procurement delays and lack of water.

The state bought the land without any water guarantees. Instead, it had to bring the water in through pipes or dig wells, expensive ventures that the state has not able to implement.

"How do you have agriculture without water ... It was a harebrained scheme, it didn't make any sense," said Slom.

When Hawaii News Now toured some of the farms, water pumps were visible from the roadside were not hooked up to pipes connecting to the farms.

"There's supposed to be a reservoir built but there's no reservoir. So there is no farming because there's no water," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

"Not a single plant has been planted or harvested. There is something wrong with this."

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