Hawai‘i is committed to doubling local food production for local consumption. To track progress on this statewide goal, it is important to understand what food is being produced in Hawai‘i, what is imported, and what is exported. Unfortunately, the "Statistics of Hawai‘i Agriculture” that included export and import data, compiled by the Hawai‘i Agricultural Statistics Service in cooperation with the National Agricultural Statistics Service, has not been published since 2009. Until Hawai‘i starts tracking import data for the state again, a proxy for protein will be tracked on this dashboard.
There are multiple challenges to producing protein sources in Hawaii including: high water costs, labor costs, processing capacity, development pressures, and lack of quality forage availability. Due to these challenges, shipping cattle to mainland is more economical since feed prices are lower and demand of beef is higher on mainland (currently due to the California drought). Additionally, controlling waste from rending materials during slaughter causes a challenge with Hawaii’s limited landfill space.
Although fish and seafood are a fundamental protein source in Hawai‘i, tracking both commercial and non-commercial fishing is challenging, especially in terms of defining what is considered local. Until more data is available, only pounds of shellfish and finfish produced by aquaculture farming and fishponds are included on this dashboard.
Eggs and Poultry
Although data on laying hens is not currently publically available through the Hawai‘i National Agricultural Statistics Service, several commercial laying hen facilities operate on the island of O‘ahu. With a steady climate and constant warmth, Hawai‘i is an ideal location for chicken farms since insulated walls are not needed for egg producing operations. In addition, Hawai‘i isn’t as vulnerable to bird viruses due to geographic location and strict quarantine laws. The high cost of importing chicken feed is one of the largest challenges facing the production of local eggs in Hawai‘i. While there is no large-scale facility to slaughter chickens in Hawai‘i, several small operations produce free range meat birds (less than 20,000 chickens annually per operation).
Traditional Hawaiian Fishponds: Loko I‘a
Loko i‘a, Hawaiian fishponds, are unique aquaculture systems that have existed throughout Hawai‘i for centuries. Loko i‘a are important components of the ahupua‘a (traditional land stewardship system) that spans from the mountains to the coral reefs, contribute to the local food system, and are an important community and cultural asset. According to the last statewide survey (DHM 1990), 488 fishpond sites were identified across the islands, though many are in very degraded conditions. There are communities and stewardship groups working to actively restore the integrity and productivity of loko i‘a across the state. Kua ‘Āina Ulu ‘Aumoa (KUA) facilitates Hui Mālama Loko I‘a, a network of fishponds, community practitioners, and other stakeholders.
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