HONOLULU, Hawai’i - As part of day focused on industrial hemp, the Senate honored Dr. Harry Ako and his team for their extensive work in hemp research and propagation.

Dr. Ako was the lead investigator in the Industrial Hemp Research Project, a two-year study authorized by SB 2175, Act 56, which directed the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, to analyze the potential of industrial hemp production in Hawai‘i’s agriculture industry. Recognized on the Senate floor along with Dr. Ako were associates Melody Heidel, Alan Yoshimoto, and Shauna McHugh. Prior to leading the hemp study, Dr. Ako was a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering departments at UH Mānoa from 1976-2015.

The first seeds were planted on April 10, 2015 at the test plot in Waimānalo. After a successful harvest, the findings were reported to the Legislature in December 2015. It was concluded in the study that “Hemp seed production may be a lucrative activity for farmers. There is significant potential for a successful hemp agricultural industry in Hawai‘i based on the preliminary findings of the 2015 Industrial Hemp Research Project.” Products made from hemp include food, clothing, medicine, cosmetics, biofuel, animal feed, and many other items. As the Chair of the Senate committee on Agriculture and Environment, Senator Mike Gabbard foresees Hawai‘i as the hemp seed capital of the world.

“My vision is to see farmers growing hemp in Hawai‘i as a cottage industry and the unique branding that comes with that,” said Sen. Gabbard. “We are indebted to Dr. Ako for sharing a lifetime of expertise and mana‘o and mahalo nui loa for confirming that industrial hemp is viable and valuable for a sustainable Hawai‘i.”

Following the floor presentation recognition, an informational briefing was held on the status of industrial hemp production in Hawai‘i.

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