I am contacting you today in regards to your article in the current MauiTime about the cane burning (Coconut Wireless, Mar. 21, 2013). I personally never had a problem with the burning and never paid notice to it unless I have to clean up the ashes when they are on my car. I started having a problem with cane burning when I could not take the complaining anymore.
I am tired of hearing people complain about the smoke to the point that I would go apply for a job at HC&S out of spite. I don’t wanna say what group of people on the island seem to be affected the most, but there is a majority of a specific group of people who complain more than any another group.
I believe that this is the lesser of two evils. If they stopped production of cane on Maui people will lose their jobs and most importantly I don’t think that all that land will be kept under developed. It’s nice to believe that we can grow hemp or have farms but realistically I doubt that would be more profitable than leasing the land to developers.
So if they do stop cane burning and stop cane growing on Maui I think we will have a nice new town between Kahului and Paia or between Kahului and Kihei. Maybe petition for alternative cane procedures or start to complain more about Monsanto, but please no more cane burning complaints in MauiTime. It’s getting old. Thank you for your time.
-Hugo Lau, via email
* * *
If the sugar industry justifies its existence as an employer, some basic facts must be presented. A truck or market garden has been shown to be an economically viable way to produce local organic food. With soil restoration, water management and very hard work, a market garden between 10-100 acres employs 10-25 people.
It takes a minimum of a quarter acre to sustain one person on a vegetarian diet, so 1,000 acres of intensive farm can sustain 3,000 people and employ 250 people.
Thirty-seven thousand acres of Maui land is growing sugar. If a quarter of that was converted to farming, 10,000 acres would feed 30,000 people and employ 2,500 people on the farms alone, not counting every other growth industry positively impacted. This would of course require leadership and decisions with civic priorities on all levels. Each micro-area is unique and would provide diverse foods.
As an urban agricultural planner, I’ve seen innovations that improve yields three to 15 times over conventional market gardens using a quarter the water, constructed from fabric made of recycled water bottles. Making these products would employ even more people. These gardens are located on rooftops, parking lots and previously unusable land. I’ve seen a gravel backyard feed a family.
Please Maui, do not be discouraged by the disinformation provided by the status quo of agribusiness. Every effort for every square foot restored toward feeding our children with healthy food is worthwhile.
-Anna Honda, via email