Final harvest marks end of sugar production on Kauai

Published: Oct. 31, 2009 at 2:52 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 31, 2009 at 3:18 PM HST
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Alan Kennett
Alan Kennett

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

MAKAWELI, Kauai (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friday marked the end of an era on Kauai.

The island's last sugar cane company, Gay and Robinson, made its final harvest on the West side of the island.

Company employees and people from the community gathered outside the factory in Makaweli to watch the last sugar cane haul being trucked in. They took a lot of photos and shed some tears.

Gay and Robinson has produced sugar on Kauai for almost 120 years. It employs 167 people. They will stay on the job for a few more weeks to help with clean-up, but on November 25 137 of the 167 workers will be let go.

"I can't say enough about our employees. They've done an absolutely incredible job with us all trying to keep this final company going. It's been really tough over the years. We're still getting today the same price we were getting in 1985," said Gay and Robinson president and general manager Alan Kennett.

Kennett is optimistic the displaced workers will find new jobs relatively quickly.

He told Hawaii News Now his company has leased 3,400 acres to a corn seed company.

Some of the workers may find jobs there. Others may be able to hook up with existing corn and coffee companies that will be hiring for their seasonal harvests.

And it is very possible sugar cane will return to Kauai. A company that plans to produce ethanol on the West side is looking at cane as its main ingredient.