Growing sugarcane and the island of Maui have been synonymous for well-over a century. It creates jobs and keeps the valley green. So why is it such a hot topic with locals?
Updated Maui Sugarcane News! Sugarcane will no longer be grown as the primary crop by HC&S by later 2016.
In order for HC&S to be able to compete with mainland continents growing the same crops, they need to keep costs as low as possible (shipping is always a costly problem.) When harvesting the sugarcane, they do controlled burns to get rid of the leafy parts and make it far easier (and cheaper) to harvest. In doing this, the island suffers air pollution that causes problems in many areas. Most people are ok with some black ash raining down, but the compromised air quality is a big problem. This is what gets people riled up.
There are some groups that propose the end of sugarcane burning. But I wonder whether they are ready for what would happen. In our opinion, the sugarcane plants would close and either shut down completely or move to the mainland. The land would be sold to other possible crops (likely GMO corn for fuel purposes or to experiment with), and/or it would be turned into housing, commercial, and industrial areas. The island would quickly move in the direction of Oahu’s south shore. Scary.
This is just our opinion. The reason we’re writing this is to get some better understanding from you! Please leave your comments below and help us understand what positive alternatives we have to sugarcane on Maui. If they can’t burn, does the sugarcane stop? Is there a way to get government subsidies to help pay for a better way to harvest? We see some crops being handled with big machines and no burning. Is it that much more expensive? Please help us understand. Mahalo!