Cultivating Prosperity: The Future of Hawaii’s Agriculture Sector Essay

Assignment Question

The following excerpt is taken from this week’s Civil Beat Article which attributes a struggling agricultural industry in Hawaii to a lack of political power. Hawaii’s agriculture industry accounts for 1% of the state’s GDP whereas tourism accounts for one-fifth of the GDP. Write a 1-page reflection (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 font) on whether you think Hawaii’s agriculture sector will increase in the future. Why, or why not? Gov. David Ige solidified a long-held vision to bolster the state’s ability to feed itself with a pledge to double the island chain’s food production by 2020, although he quickly pushed the goal post back a decade to 2030. But on an island chain with limited resources, the agriculture industry must compete for land and taxpayer dollars with tourism, real estate and other more lucrative sectors. The gaping economic hole created by the loss of sugar and pineapple has so far been filled not with new crops, but with tourism. There’s no silver bullet solution, but experts say fixing one particular problem — the agriculture industry’s dearth of political clout — could help the sector secure more public money to better address its full menu of challenges. There’s zero political power in the industry now,” said Jesse Cooke, vice president of investments and analytics at the Ulupono Initiative, which supports projects focused on locally produced food, renewable energy, clean transportation and waste and water management. “And I think that’s why Ag has been suffering here for so long.”



Hawaii, often seen as a paradise for tourists, is grappling with a paradox: while tourism has flourished, the state’s agriculture industry is struggling to maintain its footing. This essay delves into the prospects of Hawaii’s agriculture sector and whether it will see growth in the future. The analysis revolves around the notion that the sector’s lack of political power has played a pivotal role in its stagnation.

The Current State of Hawaii’s Agriculture Industry

Hawaii’s agriculture industry contributes a mere 1% to the state’s GDP, with tourism accounting for a staggering one-fifth of the GDP (Civil Beat Article, 2022). This stark contrast underscores the industry’s challenges in gaining a foothold in the state’s economy. Governor David Ige once envisioned doubling Hawaii’s food production by 2020, a goal later pushed to 2030. However, this ambitious target faces considerable obstacles.

Challenges Facing Hawaii’s Agriculture Industry

The agriculture sector in Hawaii faces numerous challenges, including competition for land and taxpayer dollars with more lucrative industries such as tourism and real estate (Civil Beat Article, 2022). Historically, the state’s agricultural landscape relied heavily on sugar and pineapple cultivation. The decline of these industries has not been met with an equivalent surge in new crops but rather with an increased reliance on tourism (Civil Beat Article, 2022). This economic shift has created a formidable hurdle for Hawaii’s agriculture industry.

The Role of Political Power in Hawaii’s Agriculture

One significant factor contributing to the plight of Hawaii’s agriculture industry is its lack of political clout. As Jesse Cooke, vice president of investments and analytics at the Ulupono Initiative, points out, there is currently “zero political power in the industry” (Civil Beat Article, 2022). This dearth of political influence has left the sector struggling to secure public funding and address its array of challenges effectively.

The Importance of Political Clout

Political power plays a crucial role in shaping policies, securing funding, and advocating for the interests of an industry (Civil Beat Article, 2022). In Hawaii, tourism and real estate sectors have wielded considerable political influence, leading to policies and investments that favor these industries (Civil Beat Article, 2022). Conversely, the agriculture sector’s lack of political representation has left it at a disadvantage.

Policy Implications

To revitalize Hawaii’s agriculture industry, it is imperative to address its political power deficit. This can be achieved through several means:

Advocacy and Lobbying: Industry stakeholders must unite to advocate for policies that support agriculture (Civil Beat Article, 2022). Lobbying efforts can help sway decision-makers in favor of allocating more resources to the sector.

Political Engagement: Encouraging individuals with agricultural interests to enter politics and run for office can ensure that the industry has a voice at the policymaking table (Civil Beat Article, 2022).

Collaboration with Environmental and Sustainability Initiatives: Aligning agricultural goals with environmental and sustainability initiatives can attract broader public support and increase the industry’s political influence (Civil Beat Article, 2022).

Education and Awareness: Raising awareness among the public and policymakers about the importance of a thriving agriculture sector in Hawaii can garner support for policies that benefit the industry (Civil Beat Article, 2022).


Hawaii’s agriculture industry faces a challenging road ahead, with tourism dominating the state’s economy. However, there is hope for its resurgence, contingent upon addressing its lack of political power (Civil Beat Article, 2022). By actively participating in the political landscape, advocating for its interests, and aligning with broader sustainability goals, the agriculture sector can strive for a brighter future


Civil Beat Article. (2022). Hawaii’s Agriculture Industry: A Struggle for Survival.


Question: What is the current state of Hawaii’s agriculture industry, and how does it compare to tourism?

Answer: Hawaii’s agriculture industry currently contributes only 1% to the state’s GDP, whereas tourism accounts for one-fifth of the GDP. This stark contrast highlights the challenges the agriculture sector faces in competing with tourism.

Question: What are the major challenges facing Hawaii’s agriculture industry?

Answer: Hawaii’s agriculture industry faces challenges such as competition for land and resources from more profitable sectors like tourism and real estate. The decline of sugar and pineapple cultivation has also posed challenges.

Question: How has the lack of political power affected Hawaii’s agriculture industry?

Answer: The agriculture sector in Hawaii suffers from a lack of political clout, which has hindered its ability to secure public funding and address its various challenges effectively.

Question: What role does political power play in the success of an industry?

Answer: Political power is crucial for shaping policies, securing funding, and advocating for an industry’s interests. It can determine the allocation of resources and influence policy decisions.

Question: What are the policy implications for revitalizing Hawaii’s agriculture industry?

Answer: Policy implications include advocating for policies that support agriculture, encouraging individuals with agricultural interests to engage in politics, aligning with environmental and sustainability initiatives, and raising awareness about the importance of the agriculture sector in Hawaii’s economy.