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Smart Yields to Enhance Food Safety Under New Grant Partnerships

April 29, 2019, 8:39 AM HST (Updated April 29, 2019, 8:39 AM)
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Hawai‘i-based agriculture technology company Smart Yields will use the $42,000 grant, co-sponsored by the State Department of Agriculture and the nonprofit Hawai‘i Farm Bureau, in a new initiative to develop enhanced food-safety solutions for Hawai‘i farms.

Smart Yields will implement a specialized water quality and cold storage monitoring system to help farmers meet the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), designed to prevent foodborne illnesses. Smart Yields will also integrate data solutions so farmers can better track and analyze critical information during the certification process.

“Small farms make up an estimated 92% of all farms in Hawai‘i,” said Vincent Kimura, CEO of Smart Yields. “Our work will help these farmers better meet FSMA guidelines, which are geared toward large-scale farming operations. FSMA certification allows farmers to sell into more profitable markets and obtain larger contracts, which strengthens our state’s food security.”

Regulatory provisions can disproportionately affect small farms due to the prohibitive cost and time demands. Smart Yields will work closely with farmers to guide them through the FSMA certification process. This includes assessing practices and facilities, then tailoring training programs and technological solutions to help them comply with FSMA and optimize operations. Importantly, the project will transition farmers from manual, paper-based record keeping to a digital platform, which will help increase productivity and profit.

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The funding is part of the “Food Safety Viability for Hawai‘i’s Farmers” program, which serves Hawai‘i Farm Bureau members across the state. Research will be supported by ongoing collaborations between the University of Hawai‘i, the Hawai‘i Agricultural Research Center, GoFarm Hawai‘i and Farm Link Hawai‘i.

Smart Yields connects farmers, agricultural researchers and their communities through crowd-sourced data gathered from a long-range network of integrated, state-of-the-art sensors that measure everything from soil health to inputs such as water, energy and nutrients. The company recently launched an extensive pilot program with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union in Colorado, covering nearly 1 million acres and supplying dozens of fruit growers with data that has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in high-value crop losses. The company’s expansion includes the establishment of Centers of Excellence and the #AlohaAg program to support farmers and encourage farming best practices.

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