Organic Industry Analysis

Growing Organics: Moving Hawai‘i’s Organic Industry Forward

Growing Organics: Moving Hawai‘i’s Organic Industry Forward

In 2013, CTAHR collaborated with the Kohala Center and others to conduct a Hawai‘i Organic Industry Analysis and generate a final report to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. The objective of the proposed project was to (1) conduct a needs assessment and study by soliciting stakeholder input and synthesizing of archival data, and (2) recommend ways to implement an economically self-sustaining organic program. The study was funded by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture through the USDA Specialty Crops Program. The final report may be found here.

Overview of Organic Food Crop Systems in Hawai‘i
(Nov 2009, .pdf):

Prior to 2007, the specific challenges faced by organic producers in Hawai‘i were unknown. In that year, UH-CTAHR initiated an analysis of organic agricultural systems, in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation (HFBF), to determine the issues faced by this group and the actions required to address critical issues. This publication describes this effort, gives a summary of the results, and includes a discussion of the implications suggested by the analysis.


Needs Assessment

CTAHR, in partnership with the Hawai'i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and The Hawai'i Farm Bureau Federation (HFBF), initiated an analysis of the organic agricultural sector in June of 2007. Two approaches were used to reach this diverse community: 1) An online survey, and 2) meetings in all four Counties. Seventy-six people participated in the process, of which approximately 75 percent were organic producers, with the remainder consisting of retailers, distributors, inspectors and educators. Participants included representatives of HDOA, HFBF, HOFA and the Hawai'i Cooperative of Organic Farmers (HICOF). This effort was strongly supported by CTAHR extension agents. The goal of this initial effort was to develop, from meeting and survey comments, a prioritized list of issues that need to be addressed in order for the organic sector to be more successful. A comprehensive list of comments and a draft listing of issues and actions to address them are available below.

All Comments: downloadable excel file

Issues and Actions: downloadable excel file

The meeting discussion and survey responses have been revealing and sometimes surprising. A few general observations include:

  1. The vast majority of participating organic growers expect their operations to expand in the next 5 years.
  2. The use of the word "industry" to describe organic food production and supply chain generated some discomfort.
  3. Many of the issues identified may apply to most small growers, whether they are organic or not (e.g. absence of affordable, trained labor).
  4. Participants feel very strongly that under-investment in organic research and education by public agencies, including CTAHR, has occurred.
  5. Participants were often unaware of resources already developed by CTAHR and other groups to address production issues.
  6. Organic growers are in particular need of tailored and comprehensive information tools that they can use to combat pests and enhance soil fertility, among other issues.
  7. While the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) organisms into the environment is strongly opposed by the majority of participants, molecular biology is viewed as having potential value to organic agriculture (e.g. development of molecular markers for disease resistance).
  8. Although this process was not intended to formulate a strategic plan, some participants are ready to do so.