Three Big Isle Companies Awarded USDA Value-Added Grants
Five Hawaii businesses, including three on the Big Island, have been selected as recipients of the US Department of Agriculture’s Value-Added Producer Grant program.
Big Island recipients included the Hawaii Cattle Producers Cooperative Association in Waimea, which received $58,180; Mauna Kea Tea in Honoka‘a, which received $27,750; and Kalapana Organics, LLC in Pahoa, which received $12,000.
Jackie Prell, owner and manager of Kalapana Organics, said the grant will provide a significant boost to her company. Started several years ago, Kalapana Organics grows certified organic sugarcane, bananas, papayas, avocados, tapioca and other produce at two farms, one located in lower Puna and the other in Onomea.
“We’re just getting up and running, so this grant is wonderful,” she said.
Prell said one of the company’s main products is organic sugarcane juice called SugarRush and Organic Hawaiian Cane Rush, and the grant comes at an opportune time because it will allow her to save money by being able to purchase bottles for the products in bulk.
The five Hawaii companies are among 298 recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico to receive more than $40 million in assistance through the USDA’s Rural Development programs. Funds may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.
Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.
The other Hawaii recipients are NBI Noni Farms, LLC in Haiku, Maui, which received $48,000 and MV Farms doing business as Naked Cow Dairy in Waianae, Oahu, which received $140,000.