Hawaii County eyes breadfruit farming

HILO (AP) – Hawaii County and a prospective breadfruit farmer are looking at putting an orchard in the Kapulena Agricultural Park.

If they succeed the breadfruit farm would be the first non-ranching venture at the park.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Mayor Billy Kenoi’s office wants to work with the farmer. The orchard would probably go on about 150 acres most recently used by ranchers.

“He’s interested; we’re interested,” said Kevin Dayton, Kenoi’s executive assistant. “But there’s some logistics that have to be worked out.”

The county acquired the 1,739-acre property in 1994 from the Hamakua Sugar Co. in lieu of taxes and began signing leases with ranchers there about two years ago.

The county is working to improve water access at the park by building a 500,000-gallon reservoir, said Jason Moniz, the president of the Hamakua Farm Bureau.

The large catchment tank could eventually support 200 to 250 head of cattle, he said. Construction could begin in June.

The county also is seeking to forge an agreement to clear iron wood trees from the land, Dayton said.

“We’ve had some nibbles,” he said.