Maui News

Monsanto Hawai‘i Gifts Prize Money to The Nature Conservancy

July 28, 2011, 7:07 AM HST
* Updated July 28, 7:16 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Monsanto’s Alex Mangayayam (right) explains the company’s drip irrigation system to Nature Conservancy Moloka‘i staff members Russell Kallstrom (left) and Wailana Moses (center). Photo courtesy, Monsanto Moloka‘i.

Monsanto Hawai‘i is donating $15,000 for water conservation in crop lands on Moloka‘i.

Monsanto Hawai‘i won the money from its parent company for conservation efforts in 2010, in which it reportedly saved nearly 12 million gallons of water and reduced watering frequency by 50%.

“More importantly, what we learned was immediately put into practice here in Hawai‘i,” said Ray Foster, general manager of Monsanto Moloka‘i.  “It enabled us to do a better job of preserving Hawaii’s water resources, and has the potential to enhance Monsanto’s operations on a global level in places with limited water resources,” said Foster.

As irrigation management technology continues to improve, research teams with Monsanto Hawai‘i say the potential exists to move towards a true on-demand irrigation program.  The team estimates that the potential water savings could be upwards of 75,000 gallons per acre.


The Hawai‘i office of Monsanto is in turn gifting the funds they were awarded to The Nature Conservancy’s Moloka‘i Program for water resource protection.


The Nature Conservancy plans to use the funds for watershed protection efforts at Kamakou and Pelekunu, two forest preserves that span 9,000 acres. The funds will also support the Conservancy-led East Moloka‘i Watershed Partnership, a consortium of 15 public and private landowners, agencies and community groups working to enhance the availability of water on the island.

A portion of funds will also be applied to the State’s Natural Area Partnership Program (NAPP), which provides state matching funds for management of natural resources on private lands permanently dedicated to conservation.

“This award is a win-win for Moloka‘i,” said Ed Misaki, the Conservancy’s Moloka‘i Program director.  “Monsanto has reduced its own water use, and the donation will help sustain one of Molokai’s key watersheds that supplies agricultural irrigation needs,” said Misaki.


Since 2005, Monsanto has provided the Conservancy with annual grants totaling $110,000, according to Misaki.

The company’s biotech crops have drawn heated debate on the island for years from those opposed to GMO (genetically modified organism) crops, which are altered by using biotechnology.  Opponents have claimed the crops threaten the health of the community, organic farming, and the culturally significant taro plant.

Mansanto is among a list of seed companies that utilizes seed genetics and technology to create products that are designed to meet farmers’ wants and needs.  The agricultural biotech industry is also credited with developing virus resistant crops.

The Monsanto Company has offices across the state including two on Maui (along the Piilani and Mokulele Highways) and one in Kaunakakai on Molokai.

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