UH Granted $1.7 Million to Support Agricultural Education
The University of Hawaiʻi will receive more than $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support agriculture and sustainability education programs according to Sen. Mazie Hriono’s office.
“As we work toward growing more of our food at home, this funding will support programs across the University of Hawai‘i system that create pathways for local students to have meaningful careers in Hawai‘i’s agricultural industry,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono.
The University of Hawaiʻi’s HI!ag Program will receive $1.3 million of the funding to grow Hawaii’s agriculture and food production workforce.
The remainder of the federal funds will expand the University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu’s Sustainable Community Food Systems program, including increasing outreach to Native Hawaiian students and students from other traditionally underserved communities.
Hawaiʻi imports about 85% of its food and has the distinction of being the most isolated populated landmass in the world, thus is highly vulnerable to disruptions in import supplies.
The Hi!ag Program is based on strong public and private support for an agriculture system that is diversified and technologically sophisticated, and is able to adjust to the challenges of global competition while maintaining a commitment to protect and preserve Hawaiʻi unique environment.
In the past several decades, Hawaiʻi agriculture has transitioned from large-scale, corporate, export-oriented production to small, entrepreneurial agricultural entities that produce primarily for the local market.
This new mode of production requires a workforce trained in science, technology, and business practices. To meet these requirements, the Hi!ag Program, was established with the goals of:
- Developing and strengthening the local agricultural and food production workforce through education and training
- Expanding local agricultural and food production through more productive agribusinesses.
The partnership of eight UH campuses and UH’s Agribusiness Incubator Program provides educational programs that target a variety of degree levels, including Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science.
The educational programs emphasize student experiential learning, student recruitment and retention and educational equality, with focus on developing student leadership skills, and building capacity among Hawaiʻi’s rural agriculture communities, including a large number of Native Hawaiians and other traditionally underserved minority populations.
Project outcomes include a larger number of graduates in agricultural sciences as well as increased productivity and profitability of Hawaiʻi agribusinesses.