How agtech is helping Hawaï farmers grow more food

Jim Wyban remembers back to the 1950s and ’60s when agriculture generated about half of Hawai‘i’s GDP. Today, he says, ag accounts for about 0.4%.

“We believe that the introduction of technology into agriculture could reverse this bad trend.” The “we” are Wyban and Jason Ueki, founders and organizers of the Thrive Hawai‘i Agrifood Summit, formerly called the Tropical AgTech Conference.

“The conference is an economic development platform showcasing new climate-smart ag technologies that can increase Hawai‘i ag efficiencies, boost production, increase salaries, create exportable intellectual property, and reinvent Hawai‘i ag to be a growth industry,” Wyban says. This year’s event will be held on September 26 and 27 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center in Honolulu.

Replacing an aging ag workforce
Denise Yamaguchi, executive director of the Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation, says, “The average age of a farmer in Hawai‘i and across the nation is 60.” The aging farm workforce is not being replaced by younger farmers.

“Many of us living in Hawai‘i are the fourth or fifth generation of immigrants who came to Hawai‘i and worked on plantations,” she says. But most of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, she says, didn’t want their children to become farmers, which has created an ag labor shortage.

Read the entire article at Hawaii Business

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