Hawaii’s Agriculture Industry Presents First-Ever Professional Development Event for Local Vegetable Farmers

On Sept. 14, 2016, Hawaii’s agriculture industry joined forces to present a first of its kind educational workshop for vegetable growers across the state. Held at Monsanto’s Kunia Farm, more than 90 farmers from Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai gathered to network and learn from leading agricultural experts.

“The purpose of this inaugural event is to support, educate and provide resources to local farmers,” said John Purcell, Global Vegetable Research and Development lead at Monsanto. “This event touched on everything from agronomics, to seed, to how farmers can market their products. It’s all about helping our farmers be successful, and ultimately, increasing the production of local produce in the state.”

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The day-long event covered a wide range of topics including the techniques for new vegetable varieties, agriculture loans, farmer support and outreach programs, pest management, Food Safety Modernization Act, farming technology and featured an informative round table discussion on the realities of vegetable production, sustainability and marketing in Hawaii.

Farm service vendors and equipment suppliers, including AgTech Pacific, BEI, Case, Crop Production Services, ITC Water Management, John Deere, Pacific Ag, Smart Yields and Wai Engineering were on hand to meet and network with farmers throughout the day on topics like water management and irrigation, organic farming, crop protection services and ag worker protection standards.

Chef's panel discussion

During lunch, the group was treated to a panel discussion featuring Hawaii’s top chefs, Chef Alan Wong of Alan Wong’s Restaurant and The Pineapple Room, Chef Colin Hazama of The Royal Hawaiian, Chef Ralph Giles of Soup to Nuts, Inc. and Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Bar & Grill. Moderated by Olena Heu, entrepreneur and food writer, the panelists shared their personal perspectives on what they look for in produce, what they buy and the challenges that they face.

“We’re always looking for something new and different to grow on our farms, and having this unique opportunity to hear directly from the buyers really makes a difference,” said Dean Okimoto, owner and president of Nalo Farms. “I think we should do this more often.”

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Monsanto co-sponsored the event in partnership with the Hawaii Farm Bureau, Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Monsanto Hawaii, Seminis, University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Governor Ige has asked the state of Hawaii to work together to double local food production,” said Scott Enright, chairperson, Hawaii Department of Agriculture. “It’s events like this that will move the whole agriculture community forward in that effort. Monsanto’s contribution today is invaluable.”