HONOLULU (AP) — Ongoing vandalism to crops and equipment has Dole Food Co.
considering a cutback in its Oahu operations, and that will mean a loss of
Vandalism losses totaled $105,000 last year, and officials are
looking at reducing the amount of fruit that is grown, the company
Dole moved into diversified agriculture after shutting down its sugar
operations at Waialua plantation in 1996, and now has reached a critical
juncture, said Mike Conway, who is in charge of all crops except
Annual losses of $100,000 or more every year take their toll,
even on a big company like Dole, Conway said.
“We’re saying certain things
aren’t worth doing anymore,” he said. “We’ve started a process of reductions in
some areas, like papaya.”
Part of the reason is the crops are generating
enough revenue, Conway said, then added it’s easier to consider reductions when
the vandalism is factored in.
“It makes it easier to say, no matter what we
do, we’re going to suffer losses,” he said.
The latest incident of
vandalism occurred July 16, when a group of people destroyed the tops of 100
papaya trees, and also smashed irrigation valves, a total of $5,500 damage. It
was the third incident in eight months at the field mauka of the Pa’ala’a Kai
subdivision in Waialua, Conway said.
In other incidents at that field,
vandals have smashed tractor windows, destroyed plants and irrigation
equipment. In other areas, vandals drove a tractor into a reservoir and swiped
a roof off of a pump house.
Ten workers were laid off last week, partly
because of losses to the papaya crop.
Dole employs about 250 people to grow
pineapple and 100 more to operate its diversified agriculture fields, Conway
“I want to send a message to the community this is the last chance
for a big company to create a lot of jobs,” Conway said. “If we start closing
stuff down, there’s no one that can readily come in on these agricultural
“People are going to be hurt.”