The Mango Loa Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2017: $19,878.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Umi Martin
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Umi Martin
Umi Martin


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: fertigation, grafting
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop, youth education
  • Production Systems: Ultra High Density Planting

    Proposal summary:

    Hawaii is the most isolated archipelago known; we are in the middle of the pacific just about equal distance from all other lands. Food imported here comes from a minimum 2500 miles away and we Import as much as 90% of our produce. For a 100 years Hawaii’s agriculture has been dominated by big plantations, mainly sugarcane. Kauai saw its sugar plantations close through the 90’s and the last one shut its doors in the early 2000’s, leaving tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land unused. The seed companies have been the biggest agricultural venture to fill the gap left by the sugar plantations, but it is not nearly enough and doesn’t address the growing demand for locally produced food. Now more than ever there is a legitimate need to diversify Hawaii’s crop production and Kauai has land that can contribute greatly towards the efforts being made to revitalize Hawaii’s agricultural industry.

    The Mango Loa Project is my vision on to increase Hawaii’s mango production by introducing a new technique being championed by India, the world’s largest mango producer. Project Unnati is India’s initiative, spearheaded by Jain irrigation, to add 50,000 new mango farmers over a five year period using Ultra High Density Plantation (UHDP) techniques. Their goal is to increase the per acre yield of mango on a sustainable basis and bring prosperity to the small farmer. The Mango Loa Project will try to address these same concerns in Hawaii.  We will seek to demonstrate the UHDP method, produce educational material, and offer outreach opportunities to Kauai's farmers and aspiring farmers.  Kauai is different from the other islands in that there are thousand of acres of available farm land, but very few farmers.

     Education and training are equally important as the field project and will be necessary for the overall wellbeing of Hawaii's agriculture industry.  Increasing food production in Hawaii requires diverse and innovative efforts, and is a major goal of the state over the next 20 years.  The Ultra High Density Plantation method may be able to contribute towards this.

    Traditionally, mango orchards are planted with 40 trees /acre, the trees are big and costly to maintain, the gestation period is 5 to 7 years, and typical yields average four tons/acre. Heavy machinery is required to facilitate harvesting, pesticide application, and pruning. Without large equipment, harvesting is done with long poles that can damage the fruit making it less marketable. Pruning the large trees require climbing, which many farmers are reluctant to do, therefore the trees get even bigger and more unmanageable. Observing the trees for pest management is very difficult and applying pesticide is often not possible. Traditionally planted mango orchards are better suited for large farm operations that have the heavy equipment needed for success, but are often unfeasible for the small and marginal farmers.

    The ultra high density plantation is a new radical method that is producing astounding results.  UHDP methods call for as much as 674 trees/acre, at a 6x8 foot spacing. The trees are maintained at seven foot height and a six foot canopy. In India, this method eliminates most problems associated with traditional mango plantations. Small trees allow for easier management of the orchard, all work can be done from the ground, and the trees can be better observed making the application of pesticides more efficient. The smaller trees require about 50% less water and fertilizer is applied through the drip irrigation system. The gestation period is shortened to three years, allowing farmers to generate revenues earlier. Yields have averaged 8 tons/acre, while some farms have reported as much as 12 tons/acre. Harvesting is done by hand and as much as 90% of the fruit is export quality. The UHDP method allows one farmer to maintain as much as 10 acres by one’s self, eliminating costly labor expenses while improving productivity and therefore profits.

    India is the innovative center of ultra-high density mango plantations.  This is a new developing method that has yet to go global and India is in the forefront.  The Mango Loa Project calls for the farmer, farm assistant, and technical advisor to travel to India with the purpose of gaining firsthand knowledge and demonstration of techniques required for this burgeoning style of planting. We will travel to Junagadh Agricultural University, Jain Irrigation and their test fields, as well as post-harvest research centers.  This unique location in India is a similar latitude and climate as Kauai, and also the innovation center for UHDP. The goals are to learn about pruning and canopy management, harvest and post-harvest treatment, integrated pest management, and problems and challenges associated with UHDP.

    Once we return from India, one acre of mango will be planted using the UHDP method. The project field will be used to demonstrate the viability of this technique, which has the potential to double Hawaii’s mango production with as little as 50 acres. Together with my technical adviser we will reach out to Kauai’s farmers and demonstrate these techniques at all critical points of the project. We will demonstrate propagation through grafting, field preparation, planting, canopy management, and harvesting. Information will be disseminated through workshops, field visits, presentations, publications, a website, and through social media. Upon completion of the three year project, we will travel to the other islands to present the outcomes of the project.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    List of Objectives:

    August 2017

    Visit India's Junagadh Agricultural University, Jain Irrigation and associated test fields, and post-harvest treatment centers.  The goals will be to learn; field preparation and planting; pruning and canopy management; integrated pest management; and harvest and post-harvest treatment of mangoes.

    1. October 2017

    - Begin adding content to the website and establishing contacts with Hawaii's farmers for future announcements and outreach activities. 

    1. November 2017

    - Plant 1/2 acre or 300 mango trees.

    1. November 2017

    -  Field day 1 to discuss and demonstrate field preparation and planting.

    1. November 2017 - May 2018

    - Propagate mango trees through grafting

    1. April 2018

    - Workshop on mango propagation through grafting.

    1. June 2018

    - Drip irrigation and fertigation workshop.  We will walk through material, setup, and management for a standard irrigation system. Fertigation and nutrient management will also be discussed.

    1. November 2018

    - Field day 2 to demonstrate field preparation and planting of final 1/2 acre or 300 trees to complete the one acre project field. Tipping, pruning, and training demonstration on orchard management.

    1. April 2019-

     Grafting workshop and power point presentation at the Kauai Community College annual garden fair.

    1. November 2019

    - Field day 3.  We will continue to observe and discuss the project field, as well as discuss problems and solutions.

    1. June 2020

    - Travel to Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island to present the findings from the project to each island''s farmers

    1. September 2020

    - Present project results to the annual Hawaii Fruit Growers Association conference.

    1. October 2020

    - National Association of County Agricultural Agents.  Kathryn Fiedler will present a summary of scientific information gathered at the Western region NACAA annual meeting.

    1. November 2020

    - Field day 4.  This is the final field day and will include harvest and post-harvest treatment of mango.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.