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HPU Plans Big Island Feed Lab

February 25, 2014, 10:22 AM HST (Updated February 25, 2014, 3:20 PM)
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Using local products to feed fish and animals could help the Big Island’s food sustainability and self-sufficiency.

That was the conclusion of a draft environmental assessment prepared by the Oceanic Institute of Hawai‘i Pacific University for its long-planned Feeds Research and Pilot Production Facility, which it would build at the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Farm Laboratory at the Panaewa Agricultural Park.

The proposed $5 million project would be the first of its kind in the Pacific Region, the draft EA said.

Researchers would explore the potential for local products such as kukui nut, algae, coconut, slaughterhouse and seafood processing wastes for use as commercial-scale sources of fish and animal feed in Hawaii.

The $5 million facility would include a research and pilot production building where feed process-testing would take place, an office trailer and storage containers on one acre of the 110-acre ag park.

The non-commercial research facility is being funded by federal and state grants from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and state Department of Agriculture.

“The proposed feeds facility represents one of many steps towards improving Hawai‘i’s food self-sufficiency and food security,” said the EA. “With an estimated 80-90% reliance on imported foods, Hawai‘i’s food-supply chain is vulnerable to any number of external forces with the potential to disrupt food from reaching Hawai‘i’s shores.”

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Feed is typically the farmer’s largest expense, and in 2012 Hawai‘i’s farmers spent $31.7 million dollars on feed, all of which was imported, according to USDA statistics.

“As Hawai‘i seeks to improve food security and food self-sufficiency by lessening reliance on imported goods, the proposed feeds facility is an important step towards developing local feeds with local ingredients,” the EA said.

Anyone wishing to provide comments on the draft environmental assessment should send them to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, 200 W. Kawili St., Hilo 96720, by the March 25 deadline.

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