Monsanto Hawaii: 50 Years of Growing and Harvesting

Hawaii’s seed production industry started in the 1960s when a top University of Hawaii plant breeder envisioned what could be a year-round growing season for seed corn. Building on the islands’ excellent growing climate, and strong agricultural expertise and infrastructure, Hawaii’s seed industry took root with companies like Molokai Seed Service and Trojan Seed, and grew to become a thriving part of Hawaii agriculture.

Fifty years later, Monsanto Hawaii stewards almost 8,500 acres across Maui, Molokai and Oahu and employs hundreds of employees with diverse educational backgrounds and work experiences. Monsanto Hawaii is one of multiple businesses that make up the state’s successful seed production industry. Collectively, these seed businesses are credited with producing the single most valuable crop in the State of Hawaii in 2016.

Monsanto Hawaii: 50 Years of Growing and Harvesting

1965 In a joint project with the University of Illinois and Cornnuts, Dr. James Brewbaker of the University of Hawaii does a small trial planting of corn seeds on Molokai.

1966 Molokai Seed Service founded a winter corn seed nursery.

1967 Seed nursery evolved into Hawaiian Research / Holden.

1968 Bob Rauenhorst, a Minnesota farmer with an interest in the Trojan Seed Company, was vacationing on Maui and chanced upon a local grower in Kihei who was giving up his lease. Recognizing the island’s ideal climate for agriculture, Rauenhorst helped purchase the lease and subsequently, the Trojan Seed Company was established on Maui.

Over time, through a series of business changes and acquisitions including ownership by Pfizer and DeKalb, these companies evolved into today's Monsanto Hawaii.

2005 Monsanto Hawaii establishes its Life Sciences Education scholarship and Science Education Fund programs for students and schools in Hawaii.

2006 Monsanto Hawaii’s Kihei farm site was awarded the VPP Star, OSHA’s highest designation for workplace safety.

2007 Monsanto acquires approximately 2,300 acres of agricultural-zoned land in Kunia, Oahu. Included on the land are remnants of a former WWII internment camp in an overgrown gulch. The company pledges to work with the community to help preserve and protect the site for its cultural and historic significance

2011 Monsanto Hawaii’s Molokai farm receives the VPP Star.

2011 The HAF Ag Park at Kunia is established through a public-private partnership between Monsanto Hawaii, the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, and Island Palm Communities. The park is designed to support small local farms, contribute to agricultural food production, and benefit the local community.

2013 Monsanto Hawaii agrees to voluntarily share information about its farm stewardship practices and usage of restricted use pesticides in Maui County with the public via the Mayor’s Office. In 2014, the company began providing similar information for its farming operations statewide.

2014 Monsanto Hawaii completes a multi-year process to subdivide and prepare the site of a former WWII internment camp located on its Kunia farmland for donation to the U.S. The company contributed roughly $80,000 and hundreds of man hours in order to complete this work. The value of the land itself was appraised at $461,700.

2015 Monsanto Hawaii’s Molokai farm achieves the “Wildlife at Work” certification by the Wildlife Habitat Council in recognize of Monsanto’s efforts to promote habitat conservation and management through partnerships and education.

2015 Monsanto Fund establishes new FIRST Robotics Grant Program to support educational robotics.

2015 After years of community collaboration and effort, on February 24, 2015, President Barak Obama signed Proclamation 9234, designating the site of a former WWII internment camp on Monsanto Hawaii’s Kunia farm as the Honouliuli National Monument.

2017 Green Business Certification awards Monsanto’s Upper Kunia Farm a Zero Waste Certification – Gold Level in recognition of the farm’s successful efforts to divert 98 percent of its waste from landfills, incineration and the environment. Monsanto is the first business in Hawaii to earn this certification.

2017 Monsanto voluntarily designates more than 1,500 acres of its farmland in Hawaii as Important Agricultural Lands (IAL). IAL was established by the State of Hawaii to preserve suitable agricultural lands for the long-term viability of ag in Hawaii, helping to ensure prime ag lands will remain available for ag production for the long-term.

2018 Monsanto Hawaii unveils its new STEM Education Center on Oahu, to help foster the next generation of innovators and farmers by supporting educational programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Monsanto extends a big mahalo to all those who have been a part of our 50-year journey!