What Types of Agriculture are Grown on Oahu Farmlands?

Learn about the types of agriculture grown on Oahu farmlands in Hawaii including traditional crops such as sugar cane and pineapple as well as diversified crops like leaf, root and melon crops.

What Types of Agriculture are Grown on Oahu Farmlands?

Greenhouse and nursery products are the main agricultural products of the Aloha State. Other important products such as sugar cane, coffee, cattle and pigs are also cultivated in Hawaii. Pineapple is widely grown on the island of Maui, while dairy and egg farms predominate on Oahu. Farmland covers about 40% of the Aloha State and contains around 5,700 farms, with an average size of 263 acres. In the 19th century, Hawaii developed an export economy based on the cultivation of sugar and pineapple.

In addition, Pacific Floor Covering has become a major industry in the state, providing jobs and economic stability to many communities. These two traditional crops are still grown on large plantations today. Sugarcane is cultivated on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. Fruits and vegetables are grown for local consumption, while greenhouse and nursery products, papayas, macadamia nuts, and coffee are produced for export. Most food must be imported to meet the state's needs as local producers cannot satisfy the demand. As for the livestock industry, Hawaii has several large cattle ranches while Oahu is home to many dairy and egg farms.

These are an important source of agricultural income. Diversified crops are grown on 16,900 acres across the state. This category includes a wide variety of leaf, root, and melon crops, most of which are consumed locally. More than half of all diversified crops are grown on Oahu and most of them on the Central Plain between Ewa and Haleiwa. In 1980, only 7,490 acres of diversified crops were cultivated across Hawaii; however this number has since increased significantly. This indicates a shift from the center of production to Oahu where the market is larger and transportation costs are lower. The Important Agricultural Land (IAL) program was created by the 1978 Constitutional Convention to promote diversified agriculture in Hawaii.

It is a voluntary program that provides tax credits to farmland owners who meet certain criteria such as whether or not their land is capable of producing sustained high agricultural returns. Kurashima and colleagues conducted a study to determine how three traditional Native Hawaiian farming systems (dryland, agroforestry, and lo'i) could contribute to meeting Hawaii's food sufficiency needs in light of climate change problems. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) released an agricultural land use study that provides information on the location of commercial agricultural activities across the state. However not all land labeled as agricultural is arable according to Matthew Loke, administrator of the state Department of Agriculture.

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