Mahi Pono LLC, the partnership that bought 41,000 acres of mostly fallow Central Maui farmland last year after Alexander & Baldwin Inc. quit growing sugar cane there in 2016 after 146 years, is focusing on ordinary white, yellow and red potato varieties as part of its first new piece of an ambitious diversified agriculture development plan. [Maui is an island in the Central Pacific, part of the Hawaiian archipelago.]
Seed potatoes, which take only three months to mature, began going into the ground last month on 40 acres that conservatively should be able to produce 400,000 pounds of saleable spuds.
Mahi Pono officials are optimistic that potatoes can become a “signature” crop for Maui, saying Idaho farmers have given them positive feedback. Still, whether potatoes can develop any sort of cachet close to onions or pineapples if they grow well on the island is still a guess.
“It’s never been commercially produced here,” said Justin Teixeira, an Upcountry Maui farmer who joined Mahi Pono as land preparation and cultural resource manager.
If the potatoes do well, more fields could be filled with them, which is something Mahi Pono is about to test out for a handful of other crops.