Kamehameha Schools is the largest private landowner in Hawaiʻi, with over 363,000 acres in its land holdings, including 181,000 acres in agriculture. The vision for these ag lands are to provide reliable food sources, local jobs, and a sustainable future for Hawai‘i.
In an effort to raise awareness and seek out ag leasees, Kamehameha Schools is launching its Mahiʻai Matchup ag business plan contest.
“Mahiʻai Match-Up is an effort from Kamehameha Schools to try and really cast the net wide to find the best, innovative farmers to bring onto our Ag lands,” says Kaʻeo Duarte, who is West Hawaiʻi director of Strategic Initiatives for Kamehameha Schools. “And we think that Kamehameha Schools’ mission as an educational institution, really, through education ties well-being and well-being is physical well-being, nourishment of your body, intellectually and so forth.”
Understanding the importance of the connection to place and land with education, Ke Aliʻi Pauahi Foundation has decided to provide monetary funding to the contest winners to help them start off their ag businesses.
Keawe, who is Executive Director for Ke Aliʻi Pauahi Foundation says: “When we started this project, we looked for partners, one group that stepped up right away was the Ulupono initiative.”
“So the Ulupono Initiatives mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of Hawaiʻi through more renewable energy, more locally produced food and less waste,” says Kyle Datta, who is Founding Partner of Ulupono Initiative. “We’ve had the honor of working with Kamehameha Schools on a number of projects statewide in energy and agriculture. So when Kamehameha Schools brought up this really innovative project and program, we were on board right away.”
“In the last so many years we’ve been really investing a lot into infrastructure and trying to really push our agricultural portfolio statewide on five islands and we found that in many cases, it’s people- is the key ingredient that sometimes we’d be lacking in this current generation where the average age of farmers is sixty years old, and really finding that next generation of farmers and not just those who want to do it, but those who have the skills,” says Kaʻeo.
“Agriculture is chronically underinvested. We feel that innovation comes from our universities, our businesses and our entrepreneurs,” says Kyle. “We are very excited to invest in local entrepreneurs that have that innovation.”
“The whole contest is going to conclude with an awards gala. That event is going to be a showcase for Kamehameha Schools’ commitment to sustainable agriculture,” says Keawe. “We’re also going to give out and announce the winners and awards for this first annual Mahiʻai Match-Up.”
The deadline for submitting your ag business plan is coming up quickly as the first round of winners will be notified on August first. For more information, log on to www.pauahi.org and check out the Mahiʻai Match Up page.