Maha‘ulepu Farm receives IAL designation

LIHU‘E — The Hawai‘i Land Use Commission has unanimously approved Maha‘ulepu Farm’s Important Agricultural Land application dedicating 1,533 acres of the South Shore for agricultural use.

“We are pleased that the LUC has approved the dedication of such a significant amount of our lands for agriculture,” Warren Haruki, president and CEO of Maha‘ulepu Farm, said in a Grove Farm press release.

“It is our continued hope that more of the fruits, vegetables, and other ag products that Kaua‘i uses can be grown on the island for a more sustainable future. This is a small step toward the future objective of eat local — growing what we eat on Kaua‘i.”

Maha‘ulepu Farm is the third entity in the state to seek a voluntary IAL designation and receive approval. As an incentive to file an IAL application, landowners are allowed to reclassify up to 15 percent of the remaining acreage for other uses, such as rural or urban; however, Maha‘ulepu Farm waived its right to claim this benefit.

The IAL designated lands will be kept in agricultural use for the foreseeable future, according to Grove Farm. The majority of Maha‘ulepu Farm’s lands are located in the Maha‘ulepu Valley area, an area that fulfills the IAL soil quality criteria. The lands are adjacent to the existing Waita reservoir and its vast water resources.

The land was originally owned by Grove Farm Company and Visionary LLC, also known as Lihu‘e Land Company, and was then transferred to Maha‘ulepu Farm.

The Maha‘ulepu lands designated as IAL are currently in use for taro, fruit trees, small crops, seed cultivation, and ranching. The WT Haraguchi family has already chosen to use some of these lands to dramatically increase their taro production.

Maha‘ulepu has long been an agriculturally significant place, Grove Farm said, and  was one of the first places in the state where sugar was grown commercially.

The nearby Koloa Plantation was the first sugar plantation in the state. It began growing sugar cane in Maha‘ulepu Valley in the 1870s. Koloa Plantation also dug wells to irrigate the ahupua‘a of Maha‘ulepu in 1897.

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