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Ellison-Agus’ Sensei separating farm, retreat units

Sensei Ag’s co-founders Larry Ellison (left) and Dr. David Agus are shown. The co-founder of Oracle and the doctor formed Sensei Holdings. Sensei Ag photo

The Maui News

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Agus, who formed Sensei Holdings Inc., are bifurcating its Sensei Farms and Sensei Retreats units, which have operations on Lanai, an announcement Thursday said.

The farms division will operate as Sensei Ag, and Sensei Retreats will become Sensei.

Kevin Kelly, a pioneer of sustainable development with 35 years experience in the leisure wellness industry as chief executive officer of Sensei Wellness, will lead Sensei. Sonia Lo, an agri-food leader with over 32 years of experience in finance and controlled environment agriculture, was named chief executive officer of Sensei Ag.

With a vision of helping people live longer and healthier lives, Sensei Ag will take what it learns from its pilot farm on Lanai globally and bring nutrient-rich and affordable food to developed and emerging economies, the announcement said.

The high tech greenhouses on Lanai utilize controlled environment agriculture, growing plants on a large scale in the environment best-suited for each crop, the announcement said. Sensei Ag is currently piloting its growing techniques at Sensei Farms Lana’i, which has the capacity to produce more than a million pounds of food per year on less than an acre of land and with 90 percent less water than traditional farming.

Once completed, Sensei Farms Lana’i will have six greenhouses, each 20,000 square feet in size. The current greenhouses on Lanai supply a variety of nutritious and flavorful fruits, vegetables and herbs grown on site to Sensei Retreats, local chefs, hoteliers and retailers within hours of harvest, the announcement said.

Cherry tomatoes, Italian basil and butter lettuce are among the crops being grown, according to the Sensei Ag website. Genetics, camera and computer technologies, robots and artificial intelligence techniques are being employed on Lanai.

“To feed a planet of nearly 8 billion people and growing, food production and nutrition must be reimagined,” said Agus, co-founder of Sensei Ag and founding director of USC’s Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine. “Employing science along with human health and consumer-driven data, we will right global inconsistencies in nutrition, promote food security and develop technologies capable of cultivating produce that is unmistakably better tasting and healthier than anything grown today.”

Lo joins Sensei Ag after leading an ag-tech joint venture in Dubai that developed one of the world’s largest vertical farms. Appointed a Global 100 Technology Pioneer at the World Economic Forum two years in a row, Lo’s passion is to strengthen the planet’s agricultural infrastructure, the announcement said.

“There has never been a better time to rebuild our global food and agriculture supply chains,” Lo said. “Although our goals are substantial, our plan is simple. To start, we will be good farmers and aim to only grow food people want to eat.

“We will then use data and innovative growing processes to cultivate food just-in-time and with peak nutritional value in every bite.”

Sensei Retreats first location is Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort, located at Koele, where people come to build personalized healthy lifestyle practices and learn the Sensei Way philosophy with the support of a trained wellness team.

Ellison, one of the richest men in the world and owner of most of Lanai island, and Agus met through their mutual ambition to focus on preventative measures when it comes to health, the announcement said. They realized that their friendship and diverse backgrounds — Ellison a technology entrepreneur and Argus a doctor — laid the foundation to create a company that could help the world live longer and healthier lives, the announcement said.

The Sensei sustainable farm on Lanai was the first creation of Sensei in 2018. The global network of Retreats, the first of which is Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort, opened in November.

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