A deal to sell plots of land to Waialua farmers moves ahead

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Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 5:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the past 20 years, Edith Ramiscal has grown bananas, papaya, okra and other crops on a single acre of land she leased in Waialua.

But this week, she and about 100 other farmers will realize their dream of owning the land they farm on.

At a time when some of Hawaii’s most productive farm lands are making way for housing development, developer Peter Savio is acquiring the fee interest on 280-acres of agricultural land from owner Dole Plantation to help preserve agriculture.

He’s dividing the land and selling individual lots of one to 10 acres to Dole’s tenants at little profit -- keeping the farmers like Ramiscal on the land.

“I think it’s really good for Waialua because it’s going to keep Waialua country. I think the farmers are going to own their own property and they’re going to take better care of the land,” said Ramiscal.

Savio said farmers will pay about $60,000 an acre, which will allow even the smallest one-acre farm to turn a profit.

“It’s absolutely going to save the little farmer. Right now large farmers can survive, mainland farmers can survive but the hard-working local guy -- the immigrant farmer --they’re having a tough time,” Savio said.

“But if they can own their own land, they will be successful and they will stay and will raise good food for all of our families for generations.”

Farmers can’t build homes on their lots so the land can only be used for farming.

“We don’t want gentleman farmers, trust me,” he said.

Instead, Savio is seeking approval from the city to build residential lots on a plantation camp on 20 acres of land nearby. If approved, he said farmers can buy their own lot at cost.

“If we don’t get the camp, the 20 acres set aside will be sold and that money will go back to the people,” he said.

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