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Organic Agriculture Subject of Conference in Kona

October 9, 2013, 4:53 PM HST
* Updated October 9, 5:18 PM
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A conference entitled “Growing Organics: Moving Hawai`i’s Organic Industry Forward” will be held Monday, Oct. 28, at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Participating in the event will be a variety of officials sharing their expertise from the public and private sectors.

The conference is part of a year-long study being conducted by The Kohala Center on behalf of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to determine barriers faced by the state’s organic food producers, distributors, retailers and consumers. Solutions regarding improvement of certification processes, local production, distribution and sales will also be discussed.

The event is a follow-up to a statewide Organic Industry Advisory Group convened by The Kohala Center in February to develop a public survey and craft recommendations to present to the agriculture department.

Scott Enright, deputy director of the state DOA and longtime Big Island agronomist, will deliver a keynote address to kick off the conference. The advisory group will then present its preliminary recommendations while encouraging input from event attendees.

Derek Kurisu, executive vice president of KTA Superstores, will be the featured speaker at the event’s luncheon.

The afternoon will be devoted to a variety of workshops covering topics such as organic certification, developing a legislative agenda for the state’s organic industry, food safety and defining the roles and responsibilities of an independent industry association.

Admission is free and open to the public for the keynote address and advisory group’s presentation, although advance registration online is requested.

Admission per person is $30 to the luncheon and $20 or the workshops. Attendees can register for both the luncheon and workshops for $45.

More information and registration are available online or by calling The Kohala Center at 808-887-6411.

“This initiative came about as a result of the fact that Hawai‘i’s organic food producers no longer had a central place where they could obtain information on critical issues such as infrastructure, processing, marketing, certification and business development,” said Melanie Bondera, rural cooperative development specialist for the Laulima Center, a program of The Kohala Center.

The center will release its final report and recommendations to the HDOA early next year.

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