LIHU’E — State Rep. Ezra Kanoho, D-Lihu’e-Koloa, was honored by Kaua’i and off island farmers for his efforts to preserve and protect important agricultural lands in the state.
Though such preservation and protection of important agricultural lands is mandated by the state constitution, the economic realities and development pressures being applied have already resulted in the loss to homesteads of what previously had been considered prime agricultural lands, including some in Wailua Homesteads on Kaua’i.
Kanoho was honored with a plaque presented jointly by Alan Takemoto, executive director of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, and Roy Oyama, president of the Kauai County Farm Bureau.
The presentation was in acknowledgement of Kanoho’s work at the state Legislature that resulted in positive impact on the state’s agricultural picture, and for small farmers, the presenters said.
One of the facets of the agricultural lands bill authored by Kanoho will have farm lands currently being leased by agriculturists analyzed for determination if those lands can be brought under the jurisdiction of officials of the state Department of Agriculture instead of the current stewards, those with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Takemoto said the initial evaluations will start on the Big Island, and eventually end up making their way to Kaua’i.
Another facet of the bill will have the state’s lands evaluated for their significance in agriculture, and, finally, an irrigation program will allow state leaders and farmers to make the transition from large plantations to smaller diversified agriculture.
Kanoho noted that this program will benefit not only the farmers, but the landowners as well.
Kanoho, in accepting the award, modestly said, “There’s so much more to be done (in the field of agriculture). It’s been an honor to have been able to serve you, but each of you deserve the credit. I was entrusted by you to do this. I’m just doing my job.”
Elsewhere at the 7th Annual Agricultural Trade Show sponsored by leaders of the Kauai County Farm Bureau and University of Hawai’i Cooperative Extension Service, Francis Takahashi’s daughter Annabelle registered the elderly farmer for the lunch that was part of the show.
“He’s 95, and he can still mow,” she said of her father.
Takahashi, who for many years farmed macadamia nuts in Kalaheo, is a Kauai County Farm Bureau member, and was just one of the many Kaua’i agriculturists who turned out to enjoy the trade show.
Kanoho said that it’s farmers like Takahashi and others who deserve the credit for the endurance of agriculture in Hawai’i.
Beth Tokioka and Bill Spitz of the county’s Office of Economic Development were on hand to explain and promote the Kaua’i Made program which will be supported by a marketing program to inform visitors about Kaua’i Made products and drive them to purchase points.
A flier about the program notes that 80 percent of visitors shop for locally made products during their stays, and, based on a visitor-exit survey done between January and March, 2005, this makes shopping on Kaua’i a $19-million-a-year industry.
The Kaua’i Made program was created to build on this opportunity and attract more visitor shopping dollars to stay on the island and support Kaua’i businesses, Tokioka and Spitz said.
Applications for both vendors and creators of Kaua’i Made products are now being accepted, and a wide range of categories of items are welcomed. These include food, beauty items, crafts, apparel, music, art, jewelry, gifts and others.
For more information on the Kaua’i Made program, people may contact To-kioka at 241-6390, or e-mail email@example.com.
Sue Keller, one of the leaders of the Kauai County Farm Bureau, noted, “This is the largest turnout (of exhibitors) we’ve had.” Keller was involved in registering guests, farm bureau members, and visitors to the event at the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall.
“I’m going to help save the county some money,” joked Ed Kawamura Jr., as he pulled out his “Grandpa Weeder,” and started yanking out some alien weeds in the lawn area of the convention hall.
Exhibitors for this year’s event included representatives of BEI Hawaii, the county’s Office of Economic Development, Deltalok Plug, East and West Kauai Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Grainger Industrial Supply, Growing Greens Nursery, Hawaii Reforestation Nursery, Kauai County Farm Bureau, the Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC), Kawamura Farm Enterprises, Pacific Service & Development (PS&D), Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Toolmaster Kauai, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, Garden Island Resource Conservation & Development Inc. Forestry Committee, Bamboo Guild, Natural Resource Conservation Service, University of Hawai’i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Kauai Cooperative Extension Service, and the Agricultural Leadership Program.
Members of the Kaua’i County Farm Bureau board meet the second Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Kauai Veterans Center on Kapule Highway in Lihu’e.
Other events on the KCFB calendar include the Garden Fair, which will be held at Kaua’i Community College on April 22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
The annual Kaua’i County Farm Bureau Fair will take place at Vidinha Stadium Aug. 24 through 27.