Start growing more food before it’s too late

What is Hawaii’s very best kept secret? No one is telling us that our million people will be starving by 2050 if we aren’t growing all of our food locally by then. That’s a fact.

While our attention is focused on problems of the world today, we really need to focus on the world’s population explosion and the devastating effect it will soon begin having on Hawaii.

The world’s population took two and a half million years to reach two billion people in 1940. Forty years later, that two had doubled to four billion people. Now 40 years later that four has almost doubled again. As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue: “Today, we need to feed some seven billion people (worldwide). By the year 2050, that population will swell to 9.5 billion. To put the demand for food into perspective, we are going to have to double our (worldwide) production between now and 2050.” That is, “we will have to produce more food in the next 30 years than has been produced in the last 8,000 years combined.”

That’s a pretty big order. Too big. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, we will have 371 million people with insufficient food. That’s more people than the entire population of the United States.

But mainland America will provide for us, right? Wrong. America is struggling. In the 1990s, it went from a large exporter of food to a net importer today. America also has the world’s seventh-fastest growing population.

Each year, America uses more water to grow more food. All three of America’s largest aquifers are being depleted beyond possible replenishing. The Ogallala Aquifer which runs under our entire central bread basket — from North Dakota to Texas — dropped another foot last year alone. It has lost 60 percent of its water in 60 years. Do the math. In 40 years, it will be dry. America won’t be able to take care of mainlanders, let alone take care of us.

Much of the world is in far worse shape. No one is pointing out that almost every current war in the world is about food for starving people.

Clearly, by mid-century there will be little food anywhere for Hawaii to import, and what is available will be too costly for us to afford. Today Hawaii imports roughly 90 percent of our food.

But our need to produce that 90 percent of our food locally in just thirty years, drastically understates the far greater problem we really face. Our State DBEDT recently stated that by 2045 our 1.1 million people will grow to 1.65 million. For every two mouths to feed today, there will be three.

Since we grow 10 percent of our food today, we have thought that we need to produce 9 times that by 2050. But with the new DBEDT population projection, in just 25 years we must produce 15 times what we grow now—an absolutely gargantuan task.

If we don’t create a true agricultural revolution NOW, by mid-century, hundreds of thousands of us and our descendants will be emaciated, desperately hungry, and warring among ourselves for food, with death everywhere.

We must wake up and start moving, refocusing our society, re-casting our goals. Food production must become our fastest growing industry. We need an explosion of farming. And it must start now.

What do we need to do? Everything. We need a major push to attract young people to farming, and to greatly expand high school and college programs to train them. We need to open up former sugar and pineapple lands for new farmers. We need to stop all housing development on currently active farmland. We need cattle ranches, dairies, piggeries, and chicken farms. And we need to raise the various foods for all those animals. We need farm equipment stores, and food processing plants. There is good money in farming, and good money in all these businesses.

We can starve, or we can have a great future. Let the revolution begin!

More information, and documentation these facts, can be found at


Dr. Kioni Dudley is a retired educator who lives in Makakilo.

  1. manawai July 21, 2018 7:33 am Reply

    Dr. Kioni Dudley said: “What is Hawaii’s very best kept secret? No one is telling us that our million people will be starving by 2050 if we aren’t growing all of our food locally by then. That’s a fact.”

    Of course, the so-called “Dr.” doesn’t site where and by whom this has been established as a “fact”.

    He said, “America is struggling. In the 1990s, it went from a large exporter of food to a net importer today.”

    This is the problem when someone who has never been in business or farmed, makes claims on subjects about which they have absolutely no clue. Did it ever occur to you, “Dr.”, that we import so much food because lower cost countries can produce it cheaper and we CHOOSE to import those foods. Not because we can’t grow it ourselves. But “Dr.” people choose to buy food at Costco to a far greater extent than farmers markets.

    He said, “We need to open up former sugar and pineapple lands for new farmers.”

    So, condemn all private farm land? Where do we get the money for that? Money trees?

    He said, “We need cattle ranches, dairies, piggeries, and chicken farms.”

    Guess you’re then a big fan of the Dairy at Maha’ulepu.

    He said, “There is good money in farming….”

    This is the key factor displaying “Dr.” Dudley’s ignorance on the subject of food and farming. If there was good money in it, we wouldn’t have so much fallow farm land. I know, our family has a farm. You don’t know. You’re a 76 year old guy running for office in Makakilo and struggling to remain relevant is a world that has passed you by. Hawaii will grow more food here when the economics of it make it feasible. It’s not feasible now and won’t be in the near future, if ever. I suggest you go back to school and get a degree in economics AND agriculture so that you at least have some basis for the wild claims you’d soon learn are entirely erroneous. But keep trying to scare the uninformed since some folks will buy it and at least you’re entertaining to the rest of us.

  2. RG DeSoto July 21, 2018 9:27 am Reply

    Figures that a “retired educator” would come up with the “sky is falling” nonsense. Thomas Robert Malthus started this doom and gloom nonsense in the 1798, Paul Ehrlich carried on. In the 1960s Ehrlich predicted that by 1970s Great Britain would no longer exist. The reason, according to Ehrlich, was that GB because of growing population and lack of natural resources would collapse.
    Malthus was wrong in the 18th century, Ehrlich was wrong about GB (and a whole lot more)…and now the brilliant Dr. Kioni Dudley, carrying on in the vein of Malthus, is wrong too.
    Hawaii will never produce all of its own food and hasn’t for a century…yet no one seems to have died because of a famine or starvation.
    Hawaii is at a comparative disadvantage when it comes to agriculture. The simple fact is that our volcanic soils just can’t compete with the fertile soils of California, the mid-west and certainly many foreign countries.
    RG DeSoto

  3. numilalocal July 21, 2018 10:34 am Reply

    I don’t know how prognostications about the future can be considered as factual. My crystal ball seems to contain a perpetual fog bank.

  4. PauloT July 21, 2018 11:21 am Reply

    Thanks for an informative article. Possibly it could have included a word on population control.

  5. Susan Oakley July 21, 2018 3:32 pm Reply

    Here’s a great article on vertical farming Singapore is engaged in – approx $12,000 per unit to build, and at the monthly cost equivalent to running one 60-watt light bulb:

  6. Chamundi Sabanathan July 21, 2018 3:39 pm Reply

    If we are to feed ourselves well into the future, we need to realize that the production of livestock requires much greater inputs of water and other resources than the production of vegetarian foods.

    Nonvegetarian food is not necessary for human health. Moreover, it has been linked to many diseases, including cancer.

  7. NoMakeSenseBrah July 21, 2018 6:04 pm Reply

    The United States is the worlds seventh fastest growing country due to immigration. Our fertility rate is less than 2 children per couple. The population of the United States of America would be shrinking if we ended all immigration.

    There is a big immigration debate in the United States right now, with Hawaii acting to defend immigration which is the cause of the food crisis you are predicting for Hawaii.

  8. Tom Niblick July 22, 2018 9:50 am Reply

    Back when I was keeping the stats for H&S on Kauai Ag, the figure was 80% imported food. I’m not surprised it has changed to 90%. Should anything happen on the mainland — and today that is a clear and present danger — there are not enough backyard bananas to keep the island’s population fed until crops could be planted and harvested. Then there is the question of where to grow those crops. Would big ag be willing to donate lands currently in seed production? Would A&B offer up any land? And, even if they could be persuaded, it takes 90-120 days to bring a crop to harvest. Do any of us have that much food in their pantry? Forget 2050. How many of us would survive the day when ships stop bringing food? This is a disaster waiting to happen now. Council and the mayor should have a contingency plan ready to implement at a moment’s notice. And farmers need to be encouraged to increase production right now by making more land available for production. This is the type of development we really need. Forget million dollar homes for those who have never had Kauai dirt under their nails.

  9. manawai July 23, 2018 8:30 am Reply

    Great thinking, Tom! (facetious) It’s always easier to tell someone else to pay for it. Like “Dr.” Dudley, keep to what you know, i.e. print-making. Agriculture and economics are obviously beyond your capacity to reasonably comprehend.

  10. Ryan Stewart August 16, 2018 11:34 am Reply

    Climate change and soil degradation will make it nigh to impossible to grow enough food for everyone come 2050. Never mind Hawaii–how are we going to grow enough food anywhere?

    Instead of planning for an already hopeless future, we should be enjoying the short time human civilization has left on this doomed planet.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.