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Friday, September 21, 2012

Agriculture is Hawaii's smallest economic sector and shrinking

Click the above graph to see the trend of agriculture in the last 20 years.

My husband, a data geek for the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO), showed me this data visualization of the last 20 years of agriculture in Hawaii. Definitely click on the link, what I've posted above is a screen capture, the actual graphic is animated, with the other industries identified for context.

The most interesting conclusion? From the text: "The agriculture sector in the State of Hawaii has a very small impact on the overall state economy when viewed through this labor earnings framework. Agriculture provides employment for a very small number of people and the people who work in agriculture earn less than in any other sector. As a result, the portion of total state earnings generated from agriculture is very small and shrinking."

Not so surprising, perhaps—the lack of farmers will always come up in any discussion on local ag. And as the data shows, since those in ag make the least amount of money than any other industry, we're probably not going to see a huge uptick in farmers anytime soon.

What's particularly interesting is how food so captures the imagination that everyone these days talks about locally-grown food and local ag, when it's a really tiny part of our economy.

Just a thought as the Hawaii Ag Conference heads into its second day. 

Posted on Friday, September 21, 2012 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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