A&B Planning Pongamia Project on Former HC&S Land

A&B Planning Pongamia Project on Former HC&S Land

Are you ready to learn about an exciting new project that could revolutionize agriculture production in Maui? A&B, in collaboration with TerViva, is planning to bring pongamia, a long-living tree from India and Australia, to the former plantation lands. This project not only offers the potential for food and fuel production but also aims to address Maui’s need for renewable energy.

Diversifying Agriculture with Pongamia

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Darren Pai, A&B spokesman, believes that pongamia can help diversify agriculture production on Maui. The transition from sugar plantation to diversified agriculture opens up opportunities to grow more energy crops locally, thus reducing dependence on imports. With pongamia, A&B aims to explore the possibility of generating renewable fuels and bioenergy.

TerViva’s Expertise in Pongamia

A&B has been in discussions with TerViva, an experienced company based in Oakland, California. TerViva specializes in growing pongamia, a crop that requires little to no irrigation. The orchard crop’s seed oil can be used to produce biofuels, and the seed cake can be utilized as nutrient-rich fertilizer or animal feed supplements. Their extensive experience makes them a valuable partner in this ambitious project.

The Scope of the Project

A&B and TerViva are working together on an initial 250-acre demonstration project, with the potential to expand up to 2,000 acres or more. The chosen site, located in Maalaea/north Kihei, was carefully selected for its favorable conditions, including ample sunlight, productive soil, and access to irrigation. The project aims to determine pongamia’s agronomic suitability in Central Maui, production costs, and yields at a commercial scale.

Pongamia’s Promising Harvest

Pai shared that pongamia can yield an annual harvest of seeds, comparable to soybeans. TerViva estimates that 400 gallons of oil can be produced per acre. Such a promising potential harvest could contribute significantly to Maui’s renewable energy goals.

The Journey Ahead

As the partnership between A&B and TerViva nears finalization, preparations are underway for planting to begin in mid-May. While TerViva will primarily manage the project, A&B will provide essential support. Together, they will evaluate the best uses and optimal logistics for processing the crop, which could potentially create additional jobs beyond field-related activities.

Pongamia’s Environmental Benefits

Pongamia’s positive impact goes beyond renewable energy production. Joanne Ivancic, executive director of the nonprofit Advanced Biofuels USA, applauds TerViva’s work with pongamia. She believes that pongamia’s nitrogen-fixing abilities make it an environmentally friendly option compared to other demanding crops. With the incorporation of pastureland forage, the project aims to utilize cattle manure as natural fertilizer while preventing soil erosion.

Join the Movement with Tips Tree Planting

Excited about the future of agriculture in Maui? Stay updated with the latest news and tips on tree planting, gardening, and sustainable practices at Tips Tree Planting. Explore the potential of the pongamia project as we work towards a greener and more self-sufficient future for our beautiful island.

Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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