[In November 2018, MauiTime broke the story of the $262-million sale of 56,000 acres of Alexander & Baldwin sugarcane land and watershed to Mahi Pono, a joint venture between California-based Pomona Farming and a Canadian pension fund. Our Changing Maui: Mahi Pono series examines all facets of the sale and the changes it will bring to Maui. It is part of Changing Maui, a larger series about changes facing Maui County.]
Maui’s Central Plain will soon start to fill with 4,000 acres of avocado trees, citrus, coffee, macadamia nuts, sweet potatoes, tropical fruits, and a 250-acre community garden, according to the company’s official crop plan.
MauiTime obtained the plan after it was narrowly distributed to a number of government agencies and other companies on the island this week, presumably by general manager Larry Nixon, who told MauiTime in an interview several weeks ago that a plan was coming. Unlike the so-called “Farm Plan Narrative” released to a group of state senators earlier this month by senior vice president of operations and chief company lobbyist Shan Tsutsui, this 23-page plan document includes the names, exact acreage, and locations of crops that Mahi Pono plans to put in the ground this year and in 2020. However, unlike the Farm Narrative, this plan does not include any water use estimates. Nixon did not respond to a request for comment on Friday morning.
Citrus accounts for the greatest amount of land, with 1,675 acres allocated off Haleakala Highway near Pukalani. The acreage includes 800 acres of limes, 400 acres of mandarins, 350 acres of oranges (which will border the Pukalani Country Club), and 125 acres of lemons.
Macadamia nut trees will be planted on 1,000 acres behind the Maui Baseyard, the second largest crop listed in the initial planting. That’s not surprising, considering that demand for mac nuts in Hawai‘i currently outstrips supply. Coffee will be planted on 600 acres encompassing 10 land parcels. Sweet potatoes will be planted on 470 acres listed as “leases” on the document. Avocado trees will be planted on 275 acres directly below Pukalani.
Tropical fruits will be planted on 100 acres between Pulehu and Spanish roads. They include liliko‘i (35 acres), dragon fruit (25 acres), guava (20 acres), papaya (15 acres), and white pineapple (3 acres).
The community farm will be located on parcels encompassing 250 acres on the wedge of land located between Kuihelani Highway and Maui Veterans Highway, and a 510-acre nursery will be situated near Hali‘imaile.
Also listed in the crop plan are 400 acres of “cover crops” across Maui Veterans Highway from the Maui Baseyard, although the land will remain fallow during the initial 2019-2020 planting period. Also remaining fallow for the time being are 430 acres of “row crops” near Haleakala Highway.