Today HC&S announced that they would shut down sugar cane production in Maui County and seek “diversified agriculture.”
I’m no political, economical or environmental expert, so I won’t even go there, but I wanted to touch the personal impact the sugar industry has had on me and my life as this chapter in Maui’s History comes to a close.
Every Maui resident can appreciate the calming lush sprawl of cane fields up the slopes of Haleakala. The pattern of green across the Valley Isle has been a valuable asset to Maui’s scenic tapestry. The cane industry also has deep roots in our history; it has contributed to the face of our ethnic and cultural environment.
I grew up in a rural area adjacent to a cane field. With no neighborhood kids (or cable tv, or tablets, or video consoles) the cane fields were our playground. I spent my years wandering the dirt roads with my big stinky dog, hiding out in the rows of scratchy leaves and zoning out on the zen of the breeze in the tall stalks of cane.
My kids, couch potatoes as they are, have also enjoyed watching the process of sowing the land, the growth of the crops, the large machines harvesting… And as controversial as it is, the burning cane was an extraordinary experience up close, like a fantastic bon fire in the dark morning hours.
What “diversified agriculture” will look like, is an uncertainty. History suggests that there a more industrial replacement is highly likely so let’s hope that the leaders make some smart choices for the best use of this situation. Also, wishing swift job replacement for the displaced workers in an already achy job environment.