KEKAHA — Agriculture is more than digging a hole in the ground and planting something, said Judith Rivera, Corteva Agriscience Hawaii research lead Friday at the dedication and blessing of a new lab building in Kekaha.
“This is a new era in agriculture,” Rivera said. “I’m happy to have found continuing use for agriculture on lands that used to grow sugar cane. This is high technology, but it trickles down to agriculture. This is using the ground to help put food on the table.”
Corteva Agriscience, agriculture division of DowDuPont, celebrated the near-completion of the updated lab building in the shadow of greenhouses rising on the Kekaha plain. The $3 million building renovations of the former seed operation will accommodate the growing research needs of the company.
“We’re excited to unveil a new lab building that will expand the research capabilities of Corteva in Hawaii,” Rivera said. “It’s the first step in an ongoing project that will increase our capacity to conduct research operations indoors, which will, in turn, provide environmental benefits while reducing the need for additional lands.”
The renovated building will include office spaces and a lab to support the activity in the shade houses, the first phase of which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The lab will also create 20 to 30 jobs.
“You folks are walking the talk,” said Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo. “Politicians talk, but you folks are the ones doing the work and walking the talk. This is another opportunity for our kids to stay at home with good jobs.”
Ryan Oyama, Global Population Development, Hawaii lead, anticipates the first houses to be completed by the end of this year. Additional structures are expected to be built over the next several years.
Corteva Agriscience broke ground on the shade house project in February after receiving approval from the state Department of Agriculture. The structures will increase capacity and incorporate new, more efficient technologies.
The additional $12 million worth of expansions and improvements for the shade house project will benefit the local economy and enhance the Corteva Agriscience research network in Waimea and Kekaha.
Four new shade structures are expected to be completed by the end of the year, with additional structures expected to be built over the next few years.
The project’s general contractor was Shioi Construction.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.