(BIVN) – A Hawaiʻi island non-profit is one of four organizations in the State to be awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service
The recipient of the $101,491 award is Olohana, Inc. in Paʻauilo. The USDA describes the project:
Hawaiʻi Tropical Fruits: Adding Value for Shared Abundance
The Hawaiian islands lack adequate food processing infrastructure for increased food self-sufficiency and food security for residents and visitors alike. Meanwhile, Hawa’ii’s small farmers (66% of farms are under 9 acres in size) struggle to make a profit, facing the highest production costs in the US. The purpose of this project is to address these twin challenges of lack of food processing capacity for local crops, and increasing profits for small farmers through adding value to local crops. The Olohana Foundation recently acquired legacy industrial juicing equipment which we wish to put into operation once again, providing a valuable option to local farmers for adding value to their tropical fruit crops and reducing on-farm food waste. In collaboration with local fruit producers, this project will pilot the production of two new local value-added fruit products utilizing food processing equipment. These final food products will be routed directly into the local food system via the Food Basket: Hawai’i Island’s food bank, and Hawai’i Farm to Car farmers market. By developing these two new fruit products, this project will be directly growing the mid-tier value chain infrastructure for Hawaiʻi Island (the Big Island) and beyond, increasing local capacity for aggregation, processing and distribution. An estimated 33 local fruit producers will benefit from this new market for their crops, including B grade crops, which will help to reduce on-farm food waste. Additionally, this project will reach an estimated 452 local consumers, providing an affordable, local and healthy food option.
The project is one of the 94 projects being funded through the Local Food Promotion Program, with awards totalling $31.8 million in the fiscal year 2022.
U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D, Hawaiʻi) issued this news release on the funding, as well as the other three recipients:
U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service awarded nearly $1.3 million total to four projects in Hawaii to expand and strengthen local food systems, and increase the availability of locally grown agricultural products. The four recipient organizations are Common Ground Collective; Hawaii Good Food Alliance; Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services; and the Olohana Foundation.
“Promoting sustainability in our food and agricultural systems is important for our communities, our environment, and our economy,” said Senator Hirono. “This funding and these projects are crucial as Hawaii works to reduce our reliance on imported goods. I’ll continue working to help ensure our local farmers have the resources and support to widely distribute their goods, and communities can access healthy, fresh, locally grown produce.”
The funding will be used to support four projects throughout the state. On Maui, Common Ground Collective (CGC) utilizes field work and research to create food security and economic opportunity for Maui communities. With this award, CGC will work to decrease Maui’s reliance on imported goods by enhancing the local food system, support local agricultural producers by providing distribution assistance to new local growers, and expand the capacity of local food businesses to contribute to the island’s regional food system and those in need.
Based on Oahu, Hawaii Good Food Alliance is a diverse group of community leaders who share in the production, aggregation, and distribution of food to rebuild thriving community food systems. The Hawaii Food Hub Hui, in partnership with the Hawaii Good Food Alliance, aims to build individual and collective capacity in Hawaii’s food hubs to ensure maximum sales for small and mid-size local farmers and producers, while enabling equitable access to fresh, healthy local food for communities. The goal of this project is to increase local food sales via Hawaii’s food hubs.
Also on Oahu, the Roots Food Hub Online project—operated by Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (KKV)—will create an online sales and marketing application to expand the Hub’s customer base and create new sales opportunities to support local farmers. The Roots Food Hub works with small and micro-producers to create a system that values local, cultural, and sustainable foods, while providing equal access to those foods. Currently, KKV purchases, stores, delivers, and retails goods from local producers.
On Hawaii Island, the Olohana Foundation will collaborate with local fruit producers to create new products, which will be dispersed into the local food system via The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s food bank, and the Hawaii Farm to Car farmers market. This project aims to increase profits for small farmers and enhance local capacity for aggregation, processing, and distribution of goods for Hawaii Island and beyond.
The funding will be distributed through the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), grants which support local and regional food business enterprises that engage as intermediaries in indirect producer to consumer marketing. The awarded projects focus on activities such as supporting the processing, aggregation, distribution, and storage of local and regional food products; developing value-added products; and facilitating regional food chain coordination. LFPP is awarding $31.8 million in fiscal year 2022 funding to 94 projects.