Reviving Agriculture to Diversify Hawaii’s Economy
From UHERO, January 21, 2021
Hawaii state policymakers have identified agriculture as a sector capable of substantial expansion as part of the state’s efforts to diversify the economy. Agriculture has, however, been in decline in Hawaii for the last 40 years despite the presence of two state programs designed to keep lands in agriculture (the Important Agricultural Lands (IAL) program) and to employ unused agricultural to produce diversified agriculture products (the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC)).
We conclude that ADC’s emphasis on land acquisition has made it a costly, disorganized and ineffective program while the state and counties have failed to fulfill their promises to landowners participating in the IAL program. Neither program is capable of achieving the state’s economic diversification goals. Both need to be totally revamped or shut down.
Moreover, we find that even if Hawaii farmers double food production, this would only increase state GDP by 0.15 percent.
The bottom line is that policymakers and citizens seeking a more diversified economy in the next 10 or 15 years will need to look well beyond a revival of Hawaii agriculture if their vision is to be fulfilled.
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