Comments from RETA-H Participants Earl and Betty Nakashima, E. Nakashima Greenhouses
"The RETA-H program had a significant impact towards the well-
The RETA-H Program has impacted the lives of many people. being of our nursery business here on the Hamakua Coast. In the
Below is a collection of comments from a few of these relatively short time we have been involved with the forest
individuals. industry we have been able to build up our nursery to provide the
industry with a major portion of seedling requirements for the
Hawai`i Island Economic Development Board PruTimber Hawaii project. Production numbers have translated
"Puna Sugar operated on 12,000 acres with 300 employees and into approximately 11,270 acres of trees and four employees
generated approximately $16 million in revenues per year. It is have been trained in the seedling operation to run the sowing
estimated that current diversified agriculture operations in Puna facility."
utilize less than 8,000 acres, employ approximately 550 people
and generate more than $30 million annually in tropical fruit, Pat Franklin, B.E.E.S.
floral and nursery projects." "More than forty displaced sugar workers and other unemployed
or underemployed residents have been involved with our training
Bill Jessup, Koloa Packing Co. program; all have gained something by participating. "
"The year before we started RETA-H, 1996, Kaua`i produced
slightly over one million pounds of papaya. In 1999, we Bahman Sadeghi, Island Dairy
produced nearly five million pounds of which I estimate 90% "The development of a new dairy along the Hamakua Coast
came from RETA-H supported farms." would still be just a dream without the help of the RETA-H
program. RETA-H helped out during a time of very tight cash flow
Filipe Cuison, Akaka Falls Farm problems in the build out of the facility by providing the means to
"Our [RETA-H financed] farm started out as three displaced sugar get the land prepared and in a condition that could support the
workers unable to find employment. Now we have added to our grazing of the herds. Without RETA-H support there is no way we
force one senior citizen, one under-employed, one mentally would be milking the 500 cows we are currently doing that is
disabled and two high school students." generating $1.8 million annually in milk sales and creating
employment for 14 people and current need to add 2 more
John AhSan, Moaula Kei employees."
"These funds have given not only hope but a bright future to
those who only had doom and gloom two years ago [when the Dennis and Leivanelle Salmo, Ka`u Coffee Project
sugar mill closed]. [RETA-H] funding has given focus to these "Without the RETA-H program and their support, my family and
displaced workers and their families." other families will not have a very positive future in the
Dr. Jaw-Kai Wang, Aquaculture Technology
"The [RETA-H] funding for these projects….allowed ATI to conduct Thomas Young, Young’s Farm
research which we hope will lead to the development of a new "Large plantations are becoming a thing of the past. Agriculture
medicinal algae industry in the state of Hawai`i." is the only enterprise for the many diverse people in outlying
areas of our island state."
Richard Edsall, Pioneer Mill
"Because of RETA-H funding, we were able to retain up to 30 David Wellington, Wellington Enterprises
people full time from our sugar operation to develop a diversified "Without the program there would be no Wellington Enterprise.
agriculture program." This was my first effort to start from scratch. Resources for help
were available. This enterprise will be an integral part of the
Soon Burnham, ST Trading growing cattle industry on Kaua`i."
"Without the help of RETA-H, the development and marketing
efforts accomplished to date would not have occurred and the Michael Farrell, ITC Kaua`i
farmers involved in the project would not have had the "As a RETA-H grant recipient we were able to expand our ‘Poipu
opportunity to sell into a known market, eliminated one of the Papaya’ operations in Kaua`i. This expansion created many new
risks of farming by being able to sell what is grown. The RETA-H jobs and has helped the Kaua`i economy (and in turn the State
program has helped in the development of a local supply of economy) with added demand for all types of services such as
peppers for value-added products and thus helped to eliminate equipment purchases and repairs, fertilizers and other farm
the need to import peppers from outside the state." supplies, freight to the local airlines, Young Brothers, and freight
forwarders, and many other areas."
Gloria Camba, Ka`u Coffee Project
"The RETA-H Program has been a great boon for many of us in Duane Shimogawa, Kaua`i Specialty Meats
the Ka’u community and has made it possible for many of us to "The RETA-H grant has encouraged me to accept the additional
realize our dreams of running our own businesses. financial risk in taking on this expansion and along with the
existing assets of the business I will be providing a minimum of
Kimberly Matsui, Ka`u Coffee Project $60,000 of loan and equity money."
"Each individual who benefits from the RETA-H Program
ultimately affects others, their families, neighbors and the entire
Dr. Calvin Lum, North Shore Cattle Co. Herb Kamiyama, Kini Po-Po Creations
"Without the funds, I would not have taken the high risk to "With the help of RETA-H, our project in the Ka`u district was able
develop a feed ration using local products/by-products. I now to survive the three-year drought and with the return of normal
have a ration which has demonstrated its value and can be used rainfall and the addition of irrigation, we are now projecting great
by others." things for the development of the Hawaiian herbal tea industry."
Dennis Okihara, Haupu Growers Joe Azzaro, Palama Meat Co.
"It gave us the capital that was not available to us elsewhere to "RETA-H provided wide-spread input and suppor t for the
start a farming operation and allowed us to become a farming revitalization of the only rendering plant on the Hamakua Coast.
enterprise on Kaua`i. More importantly, I think that it gave us As a result of the support RETA-H provided, the facility is now
emotional support in a desperate time. It empowered us to employing 28 displaced sugar workers in comparison to only
strive forward and attempt to secure our own futures." eight employees less than three years ago. RETA-H has provided
us with the foundation for continuing operations on the Big
Robert Mitnick, Hawai`i Taro Company Island, has eliminated ecological concerns with the burying of
"The RETA-H funds have been a large factor in the growth of my animals and resulted in the creations of jobs."
company. I believe that the project has been a huge success
towards increasing the economy of the state—helping to bring Kimo Falconer, Pioneer Mill
value--added products to market. Our goal is to process 6 million "The only bright outlook for any future in agriculture here on West
pounds of taro and 1 million pounds of laulau leaves." Maui was the RETA-H Program through the Hawai`i SBDC
Network. That approval alone breathed life back into this very
Alex Sou, Aloun Farms productive agricultural region."
"With the funds we were able to do the field research that served
as the basis for the expansion of our farm operation. We now
employ over 120 employees and successfully farm over a couple
thousand acres of former sugar lands."
Leonard Oshiro, Hawaii Livestock Cooperative
"Without the funds, the coop would not be able to stabilize their
slaughter operation and expand to meet the demands of the
market and the food safety requirements. The funds will help the
members to realize their dream to operate their own plant and
compete with imports."
Richard Oszustowicz, Hawai`i Gold Cacao Tree
"RETA-H provided a disciplined approach to accessing cacao
farming in Hawai`i and triggered a larger view of cacao and its
products. With the help of RETA-H, we were able to show others
the viability of this endeavor and to obtain the necessary funding
for the development of this industry on the islands. Without the
help of the RETA-H program, it would have been difficult to obtain
the necessary investments for this endeavor."
Milton Agader, Twin Bridge Farms
"Were it not for the funds, there would not likely be an asparagus
farm of this size to meet the demand of the high-end market.
The fact that we are employing workers, using former sugar lands
and filling a niche market meets the objective of the funds."
Tom Menezes, Hakalau Farm & Nursery
"The RETA-H program has helped me and members of the project
like a shot in the arm, a boost, a catalyst for growth, a
synergistic expansion and an explosion of resources to advance
the production and growth of upland (dryland) taro. Without these
RETA-H funds, I wouldn’t have taken the risks associated with
mechanizing the production of taro and trying new ideas."
Herb Kamiyama, Kini Po-Po Creations
"With the help of RETA-H, our project in the Ka`u district was able
to survive the three-year drought and with the return of normal
rainfall and the addition of irrigation, we are now projecting great