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Ag programs receive $430,600 grant

HONOLULU — Hawai‘i has been awarded $430,600 to help strengthen the state’s specialty-crop industry through a federal block-grant program.

The state Department of Agriculture approved 10 project proposals under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which aims to enhance the competitiveness of Hawai‘i-grown specialty crops in local, domestic and international markets.

Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Much of Hawai‘i’s diversified agriculture falls under the specialty-crop designation.

“Hawai‘i initiatives that are being funded under this program will help our farmers and growers increase production, expand their markets and help boost our agricultural economy,” said Gov. David Ige.

“With the constant challenges inherent in agriculture, support like this can be essential in helping to improve and grow the industry,” he said.

“Specialty crops are the backbone of Hawai‘i agriculture,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the state Board of Agriculture. “It is encouraging to see that we are able to fund several research projects, including those that address critical agricultural issues such as the plant diseases and pests.”

The DOA received 37 project proposals for the grant, and 10 were chosen by a selection committee based on their potential to benefit the industry.

Most of the grant money went to projects associated with the University of Hawai‘i.

Selected projects include a statewide education campaign on superfood crops, a project to use gall-wasp-resistant tall wiliwili and other plants as windbreaks, assessing olive fruit-fly-control strategies in the state, and support of local agriculture.

While not a requirement of this federal grant, many of these initiatives have additional or matching funds from other sources, providing greater leverage to the grant funds.
Source: The Garden Island

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