Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard today sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Services (FAS) calling on the agency to provide greater visibility to Hawaii macadamia nuts on its export list to foreign markets.
In December 2014, Congresswoman Gabbard visited India at the personal invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During her stay, some of the visits included those with business leaders to discuss a bolstered Hawaii-India trade relationship focused on the growing food retail market in India.
“India is the world’s 10th largest economy measured in terms of gross domestic product,” wrote Congresswoman Gabbard. “Given India’s growing population and expanding middle class, Hawaii, as one of the world’s largest producers of macadamia nuts, has an opportunity to establish a niche market for a U.S. grown savory nut.”
Hawaii farmers in the macadamia nut industry generated more than $36 million in revenue in 2013. Growth in this industry would expand business and employment opportunities in rural Hawaii communities. Industry leaders like Troy Keolanui, John Cross, and Richard Schnitzler applauded Congresswoman Gabbard’s efforts to encourage FAS to prioritize macadamia nut exports.
“Promoting Hawaiian Macadamia nuts to foreign markets is a big boost to our industry, and we are grateful to Congresswoman Gabbard for again taking the lead to represent the farmers of Hawaii,” said Troy Keolanui, co-owner of the Hilo-based OK Farms.
“We thoroughly support Congresswoman Gabbard’s effort to expand Hawaii-grown macadamia nuts to India and Southeast Asia. We look forward to making contact with representatives from India and other Asian countries to build future business relationships,” said John Cross, President of the Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association.
“Hawaii’s macadamia nut industry continues to be a growing industry, and we support Congresswoman Gabbard’s idea of opening new markets, including in India,” said Richard Schnitzler, President of Hamakua Mac Nut Company.
The full text of the letter is below:
January 14, 2015
Dear Under Secretary Scuse:
Aloha. I write to request that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Services (FAS) provide macadamia nuts greater visibility on its export list to foreign markets, including India.
During a recent trip to India at the personal invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I met with India’s government, military, and business leaders to explore topics of mutual interest, including trade and agriculture. In a meeting with Srimati Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State of Commerce and Industry, we discussed ideas to increase commerce and minimize barriers to more foreign investments. At another meeting with Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Governor Mridula Sinha, we discussed establishing a “sister state” relationship between Hawai`i and Goa with the aim of increasing economic and cultural exchanges.
India, a strong ally of the United States, is the world’s 10th largest economy measured in terms of gross domestic production (GDP). Its GDP grew a respectable 4.7 and 5.5 percent in 2013 and 2014. It is a member of the economically powerful G-20 organization, and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), an association of the globe’s five major emerging national economies.
A recent Global Agriculture Information Network report by FAS recognized the growth potential of almond exports to India in 2015. Given India’s growing population and expanding middle class, Hawai`i, as one of the world’s largest producers of macadamia nuts, has an opportunity to establish a niche market for a U.S. grown savory nut. In 2013, Hawai`i farmers generated more than $36 million in revenue from 12.6 million pounds of processed macadamia nuts grown on 17,000 acres of land. Growth in Hawai`i’s macadamia nut industry would greatly expand rural business and employment opportunities.
FAS assistance in promoting Hawai`i grown macadamia nuts to the India market is a positive step forward in forging a stronger U.S.-India relationship. Given the growth of the Indian food retail market and potential expanded opportunities for Hawai`i’s agricultural industries, I am requesting that FAS prioritize the macadamia nut in its export recommendations. I look forward to your positive consideration of my request.
Member of Congress