Syngenta reduces leased land

LIHUE — Global seed giant Syngenta has relinquished more than 500 acres of land on the foothills above Waimea, reducing its footprint on the island by about 15 percent.

The mauka lands were returned in April to the Agribusiness Development Corporation, reducing Syngenta’s monthly rent by about $4,800.

Mark Phillipson, spokesman for the company’s Hawaii operations, said the land was returned to ADC, which coordinates the development of the state’s agriculture industry, because it was sitting unused.

“We were going to use it for seed production but we just never really utilized the land,” he said. “The road up there needs to be developed and infrastructure-wise there were some things that needed to be done and we never put any money into the budget for it.

“It’s as simple as we just never used that land so we’ve been paying for it for a number years and it’s just good sense from the perspective of the budget to let go of it,” he added.

Syngenta now occupies roughly 3,000 acres in Waimea and Kekaha, he said.

The land give-back is unrelated to the 23 Syngenta jobs on Kauai that were lost in March, according to Phillipson.

At the time, Phillipson said the layoffs were part of a companywide mandate to cut $1 billion in spending by 2018. For Kauai, that means operations will shift and Syngenta won’t be doing as many projects as in the past, Phillipson said.

In a November news release from the company headquarters in Switzerland, Syngenta CEO Mike Mack said the budget cuts are intended to simplify structure and key global functions by moving certain activities to lower-cost locations, increasing profitability and maintaining focus on innovation.

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