As we enter the fourth year of the Clinton Foundation’s Hawaii Initiative, it’s a reminder of how much the foundation has been involved in the island nation.
But this year, the foundation is stepping back from its role and focusing on more local food.
This is especially important in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
And that means Hawaii is getting more focus on the foundation’s Hawaiian food initiatives, which will help the island’s food and farming industries thrive.
“We’ve been very focused on Hawai’i food and we’re very focused this year on Hawaii’s agriculture, agriculture-related activities,” said John K. Tressel, Hawaii program manager.
He says the foundation will continue to work with local businesses and local governments to increase local agricultural production, especially in the agricultural industry.
“And I think we’re going to see a really strong push to continue to support the agriculture industry here, and to support farmers in the Hawaii region,” said Tressell.
But while the foundation focuses more on Hawaii this year and in the future, it will be expanding to other countries to ensure the islands food and agriculture sector continues to grow.
This year, more than 100 donors are participating in the foundation-funded Hawai’I Island Farm and Food Program, which supports about 5,000 farmers and other local farmers.
And while some are already doing well, there’s a lot more work to do.
“This is one of the most difficult years in terms of how we grow and how we manage the crops and the land and so on and so forth,” said Bill D. Meeks, president of the Hawai’ihi Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s just so challenging to manage the land that you need a lot of farmers to come in and help out, so there’s always a lot going on to keep us from being able to grow enough crops to sustain ourselves.”
In addition to the foundation, the group also partnered with the Hawaiian Community Foundation to support about $30 million in agriculture and food aid.
In a statement, the HCF said it “looks forward to continuing to support local food producers and food distributors who support local farmers and producers in Hawai’í Island.”
In the meantime, the program will continue its work with farmers to help them grow and expand.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity here for us to continue helping farmers, as well as support local producers and farmers in Hawaiʻi,” said Meeks.
“There’s no question that the farm and food industry is the backbone of our economy, but we also have to have a good agricultural economy, and we have to do a better job of supporting our farmers in order to do that,” said Chris O. Kukla, executive director of the Hawaii Community Foundation.
Kukuula says he hopes the foundation can continue to help farmers grow in the years to come, while also helping local growers find new markets for their crops.
And that’s one reason why the HFC is supporting the Hawaii Farm and Harvest Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes Hawaii food, agriculture, and farming.
“The foundation has helped us in the past, but now that the state of Hawaii has had its coronaviruses, the needs of farmers and food are becoming more urgent,” said Kukula.
“What we need is a partnership between the state and the foundation.”
As for the foundation and the Hawaiian Food Association, Kukloa says that he believes the two groups can work together in the long run.
He said that, with the help of the state, the Hawaiʺi Food Association is able to focus on supporting farmers in rural Hawaii, where they may not have the resources to grow their crops or their food.
But he said they also have an opportunity to grow the Hawaii food industry in a way that can benefit both the state’s economy and the communities.
With that said, Meeks says the state needs to do more.
“[The] state should get out of the way and not interfere in the marketplace of what’s going on in the industry,” he said.
Kukla says that, as part of that plan, the state should look to support a more localized model of agriculture in the state. “
So we need to work together and be very, very clear about the relationship between the foundation [and the state] so that it can grow and benefit both our communities and the state.”
Kukla says that, as part of that plan, the state should look to support a more localized model of agriculture in the state.
He wants to see the state create a pilot program for small-scale, small-business farmers in Hawaii, with a focus on Hawaii farms.
The state should also encourage local farmers to work more closely with the state when it comes to funding programs and programs that support local businesses.
“I think we can really benefit from having more of a partnership with the State of Hawaii,” said