A new report released Monday offers ideas on how Maui could use 36,000 acres of former sugarcane land to boost local food production, combat climate change and employ more people.

“We believe that this unique opportunity to expand the vision of what’s possible for agriculture on Maui can result in a win-win-win situation for all concerned,” said Albert Perez, executive director of Maui Tomorrow.

The nonprofit commissioned the report by Permaculture Design International.

“By moving beyond sugar to more sustainable uses, we estimate that this land can easily support more than double the 675 employees HC&S is planning to lay off, while generating at least triple the benefit for our local economy,” Perez said. “Regenerative agriculture can also help to capture atmospheric carbon, thus offsetting climate change instead of contributing to it. By becoming a center for regenerative agricultural education, Maui can also kick-start a new industry and share our knowledge with the world.”

This artist's rendering in a report called "Maui's Farming Future," released Monday, shows what regenerative agriculture could look like.
This artist’s rendering in a report called “Maui’s Farming Future,” released Monday, shows what regenerative agriculture could look like. Courtesy: Maui Tomorrow

For 150 years Maui has both benefitted and suffered from the effects of industrial, chemically intensive, mono-crop agriculture for export, according to the report. The sugarcane era is officially ending this year, and citizens of Maui are concerned and caring about the loss of jobs for so many families, and are excited and motivated by the opportunities, the report says.

“This report is the start of that conversation – bringing our diverse people and businesses together to find excellent long-term solutions, solutions that make it pono,” the report says.

“With that in mind, that there are many conversations and stories yet to be told and heard, we offer a window into abundant, resilient regenerative agriculture, a way forward that prioritizes food crops, livestock, diverse and profitable enterprises, and can build a whole farming economy that is just and environmentally sound.”

Learn more here. Read the full report below.

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