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Hawai‘i Island Farm Trails was awarded $5,000 by the MahiX open innovation challenge to expand its smartphone app and website to support farm tours on Hawaiʻi island. The business, founded by UH Hilo assistant professor of tourism Dr. Angela Fa‘anunu and sister Kalisi Mausio, supports agritourism and connects farmers to visitors by promoting farm tours, farmers markets, and agricultural events.

KS, Ulupono invest $50,000 in local ag and food system innovators through MahiX challenge

Jun. 30, 2020

Contributed by Crystal Kua

A tool to fight agricultural theft and the expansion of a smartphone application to support farm tours are among the innovative solutions funded by the MahiX challenge (mahi means to cultivate or farm). The challenge funded by Kamehameha Schools and Ulupono Initiative – a local sustainability advocate – addresses Hawai‘i’s pressing agricultural and food system issues.

MahiX is a component of KS’ Mahi‘ai a Ola initiative, which strives to promote sustainable agriculture and revitalize Hawai‘i’s farming industry.

KS and Ulupono invested a combined $50,000 in the following winning solutions for the future of Hawai‘i’s agricultural industry and food system:

Two new technologies that include:

  • Hawai‘i Island Farm Trails – A $5,000 award will fund the expansion of the business’ smartphone app and website which support agritourism and connect farmers to visitors by promoting farm tours, farmers markets and agricultural events on Hawai‘i Island.
  • SmartWater CSI – A $20,000 award will fund this partnership with the Hawai‘i County Prosecutor’s Office to use technology to help protect farmers’ assets against theft. The project will include purchasing kits for farmers leasing KS agricultural land.

A collective impact initiative – Hāmākua Institute and Hawai‘i Island Agriculture Partnership will conduct a feasibility study of developing an Agricultural Innovation Center in East Hawai‘i to address food processing, storage and distribution needs. This initiative will receive $20,000.

Policy research and solutions – Partnering with The Kohala Center to form an agricultural housing policy working group focused on formulating an action plan that will facilitate the development of agricultural housing on Hawai‘i Island. A total of $5,000 will be invested in the project.

“While Native Hawaiians have traditionally practiced sustainable farming, MahiX allows us to explore a modern approach to mahi‘ai by pursuing innovative strategies and advancements in technology,” said Marissa Harman, KS asset management director for Hawai‘i Island. “Through this initiative, we can support our farmers and people on the front lines working to solve for resilient solutions to the modern challenges that farmers face in putting food on the table for Hawai‘i families."

“Ulupono Initiative is committed to a more sustainable Hawai‘i, which we work to achieve through our support of locally produced food, renewable energy, clean transportation, and better management of freshwater and waste,” said Amy Hennessey, senior vice president of communications and external affairs for Ulupono Initiative.

“Especially now as our state sets out toward recovery, we see clearly how our dependence on importing 90% of our food and the just-in-time delivery model has left our community exposed. MahiX encourages innovation within the agriculture sector to introduce and test new ideas, products, methods and partnerships tailored to Hawai‘i’s specific needs and values to help build a more self-sufficient and resilient food system.”

To learn more about KS' mah‘ai initiatives, visit the Mahi‘ai a Ola website.


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