According to audit data released yesterday, the state agency set up to help convert Hawaii’s agriculture lands from plantations producing mainly pineapple and sugar for export to more economically viable farms has failed in its mission.
The assessment of the Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp. comes at what some see as a critical time for the state’s tourism- and military-dependent economy as the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to diversify.
Executive director of the Agribusiness Development Corp. Jimmy Nakatani told auditors that a plan required by law is not necessary because he has everything in his head. The corporation was set up more than 25 years ago to help do that by reinvigorating Hawaii’s agriculture industry, which had once been a pillar for jobs and income. However, the Hawaii State Auditor said that has not been happening.
In a rather scathing assessment, the auditor found that neither the corporation nor its board even know what the state agency’s duties are. Even basic duties, like creating a plan required by law, seem to have been ignored.
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