Shrinking Syngenta?

KEKAHA — There could be more land available for diversified agriculture on Kauai’s Westside if a Syngenta request to withdraw 847 acres of land from what they lease from the state is approved.

If granted, the request would bring the total amount of land leased from various owners on the Westside down to roughly 2,300 acres.

“Our request was based on a projection of our operational needs for acreage for the next few years,” said Syngenta spokeswoman Beth Tokioka. “We’ve made some adjustments to be more efficident, resulting in a reduction.”

Syngenta has a lease with the state on their land through 2027.

Scott Enright, member of the board of directors for the Agribusiness Development Corporation, said the board deferred making a ruling on the request when it came up in their Wednesday meeting because Syngenta representation wasn’t present.

“They’re giving up a significant piece,” Enright said. “They’ve got another 10 years left and they’re asking to give it up early, so I thought the board should hear what the business strategy is going forward.”

Enright said with depressed corn prices and a downcycle in worldwide commodity prices, the entire industry is experiencing an economic dip, but there’s also “a lot of shakeout happening in the biotech industry” at the moment.

“Syngenta is in the process of negotiating with ChinaChem for a potential purchase, and Dow and Dupont are merging,” Enright said. “They’ve both got facilities on Kauai, so then that would be looked at to see what the redundancies are, and they’ll be downsizing.”

He likened the industry to many other “startup industries,” where the best companies succeed and the others either “get consumed, or fall away.”

“There’s only so much market share in genetics,” Enright said.

The request will be reviewed at the ADA board of directors’ meeting next month.

Enright said DOA is interested in generating more activity on diversified ag lands, and is hopeful the potential addition of nearly 850 acres will stir some interest.

“We’d like to see a lot more agriculture on Kauai,” he said.

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