Farming land in Wahiawa notorious for illegal activity not enough to stop crime

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two farmers were awarded land on Wednesday, Sept. 29, which is next to a property that is notorious for illegal activity. However, some people said putting farmers on the land is not enough to stop crime and illegal dumping in the area.

According to one farmer, it all boils down to security. Theft, illegal dumping and nefarious activities will persist without regular patrols and law enforcement.

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Roughly five acres of land near Whitmore Village — across from Poamoho Camp — has been a haven for criminal activity, illegal dumping and dangerous brush fires for years. That land is meant to be farmed. It is owned by the state and is just a small portion of the 4200 acres managed by the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC).

On Wednesday, the ADC awarded two farmers roughly 230 acres to farm.

In a statement, the ADC said:

At its Sept. 29, 2021 meeting, the ADC Board selected Thomas Law and Tony and Manyvone Law’s application for the Wahiawa area. They have combined over 50 years of farming experience and are excellent operators. The State can provide a license agreement for up to 35 years.”

Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) statement

“Another 1,161 gross acres of ADC property in the Central Oahu area were awarded to three other finalists: Cedar Grove Hawaii Inc., Hawaii Sustainable Agricultural Products LLC, and Ohana Hui Ventures Inc.”

“Our next steps are to work with the state Department of Health to remove the remaining abandoned vehicles properly and address any environmental issues, if needed. We also plan to issue Rights of Entry to the farmer so they complete their soil conservation plans, irrigation planning for their individual licensed areas so they can begin farming the land.”

Getting farmers on the land is just one piece of the puzzle, according to Ho Farms Manager Neil Ho.

“I think it will solve some of the problems,” Ho said.

His family farms land nearby, which is also managed by ADC. He said ADC does provide some security.

“They have rovers. They kind of rove around and inspect the area. It’s not like 100%, but it’s really better than nothing because a lot of times the guys are dumping vehicles when there’s no one around, and if there’s rovers wandering, then they can stop it. But,” Ho added. “They’re not gonna be able to prevent everything.”

Ho said some security is better than nothing.

“We’ve been in other places. Weekly people come in, they drive our cars around, they cut our batteries out, they just cut our locks. They just create a mess,” Ho said.

He also said consistent monitoring is the key to preventing illegal activity.

Senator Donovan Dela Cruz (D) wants to take it a step further and establish broader protection for all agricultural properties.

“I really believe that the state is going to have to create an AG enforcement arm to help secure it,” Dela Cruz explained. “I mean, there’s no other way. I think we’re gonna have to start to employ even technology with maybe drones or do things like that. But ADC and Department of AG are going to have to make that kind of investment.”

Dela Cruz said he introduced a bill last session that was killed in another chamber. He plans to push for it again.

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“There’s lots of other areas, not on state land, that are also suffering from theft or vandalism,” he explained. “If food security and farming is going to be a priority, we’re going to have to provide law enforcement support.”

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