Farming Futures on O‘ahu

Jun 9, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Demand for farm land is so great in Hawai‘i, Aloun Farms is trying to speed up its sale of acres in Central Oahu. Pacific Business news editor in chief A. Kam Napier, has more.

Things seem to be happening quite quickly for Aloun Farms. In late April, it put 18 fee-simple farm lots on the market in a development called Helemano Ranch & Farms, near Dole Plantation. This was meant to be the first phase of ag development, with 17 more lots to go on sale later. But so far, Aloun Farms has found 23 potential buyers, including multiple offers on some parcels. Interest in the land is running so high, Aloun has gone to the state Real Estate Commission for approval to put all 35 lots on the market in an agricultural condo regime. Alec Sou, of Aloun Farms, hopes to have that permission by late summer.

Of course, this rapid movement on the lots was a long-time coming. Aloun Farms started out on this project by leasing the combined 488 acres of former pineapple lands for six years. During that time, it spent $4 million on clearing the land, amending the soil, installing irrigation and rotating through such crops as pumpkin, zucchini and cabbage.

Last year, it purchased these 488 acres from Dole Food Company for $12 million. The lots it is now putting on the market range in size from about 10 to 18 acres, priced from $75,000 to $110,000 per acre. Some the lots have been fallow long enough to qualify as organic.

Aloun Farms will continue to invest in the project, expecting to spend about $10 million to build a 35,000-square-foot post-harvest cooling facility for the future farmers of Helemano Ranch. Sou tells PBN that about half of the interested buyers are existing farmers within the state, and are looking to grow such crops as mushrooms, coffee, tea and cacao beans for chocolate.