East Hawaii News

Abercrombie to Recognize Big Isle Scientist, Biofuel Project

April 4, 2013, 6:25 PM HST
* Updated April 4, 6:26 PM
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A Big Island scientist who helped Hawaii’s papaya industry recover from a devastating disease will be honored Saturday.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has proclaimed April 6 “Dr. Dennis Gonsalves Day” in honor of the head of the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.

Abercrombie will be at the Hilo-based US Department of Agriculture facility to recognize Gonsalves, who was born in Kohala.

Gonsalves was a researcher at Cornell University when he helped develop a strain of papaya resistant to the ringspot virus. The discovery helped the Big Island papaya industry rebound after seeing the virus reduce harvests by more than half in the 1990s.

On Saturday Abercrombie will also present a check on behalf of the state’s Agribusiness Development Corp. toward PBARC’s program to create a zero-waste biofuel and feed program from unmarketable papayas.

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The money will be used to help fund a pilot program being done by the center in conjunction with BioTork Hawaii LLC, a Florida-based company looking to establish commercial production of biofuel and high-protein feed from off-grade papayas.

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