Food Production & Security

Background

In ancient times, the people of Molokai were renowned for their ability to produce abundant quantities of food.  In honor of the great productivity of the island and its surrounding ocean, Molokai was frequently referred to as `Aina Momona (abundant land).  Through careful stewardship, Molokai’s people were able to maintain a sustainable and self-sufficient food supply for thousands of years.

Today, it is Molokai’s long-term goal to protect our isolated existence in the middle of the Pacific Ocean from outside interests that conflict with the island’s values.  In order to achieve this objective, it is crucial that the agriculture and aquaculture sector on Molokai thrive, and that we move away from our current practice of importing almost all that we consume.  With only about one week of food inventory in the state, attaining food self-sufficiency is a major priority – not only for Molokai, but for all of Hawai`i.

The ability to secure a sustainable food supply and to create a diversified economy for our island will depend on our capacity to provide farmers with an agriculture/aquaculture-friendly production environment.  By focusing on production-based economic strategies that work toward this goal, such as agriculture and aquaculture initiatives, Molokai can both perpetuate our rural lifestyle and once again become a true `Aina Momona.

Purpose

The purpose of the Food Production section of Moloka`i-pedia is to first summarize our findings on the current agricultural picture on Molokai.  This includes common challenges, as well as suggestions for improving our local food production system.  Overall, we aim to identify which agriculture and aquaculture initiatives could be the most useful in assisting Molokai in becoming more self-sufficient in the area of food production.

Data excerpts from the Sustainable Molokai Agriculture Needs Assessment:

  • 3.9% of the adult population were surveyed. Molokai’s adult population is at 5,401 out of a total island population of 7,345.
  • 36 interviews were conducted with ag experts and educators (3); small and medium-scale farmers and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operators growing diversified and organic crops (14), deer and cattle ranchers (3); fishermen and aquaculture producers (4); hotel and restaurants (3); and other informants (1).
  • 94% community members of the sample population care/think about where there food comes from, while 5% do not.
  • 90% of those surveyed prefer to buy local Molokai food products, while 2% do not.
  • 98% of those surveyed would eat more local food it were available, while 1% would not.
  • The average age of a farmer on Molokai, who considers themselves farmers, is 44 years old.
  • Of those key informants interviewed who are commercial farmers, their average age is 54.
  • Common challenges associated with farming on Molokai include high costs of equipment, water, shipping, operational costs, and natural elements like wind, drought, and wild animals (deer). The need for additional education and training to build capacity of the farming community is also a factor in these challenges.
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