Future Farmers of America and Working in the Sugar Industry
Future Farmers of America
While at Hakalau School, Waichi Ouye committed his life to supporting agriculture in Hawaii, as a key building block of the economy. He consistently followed this path, even in retirement. Agriculture was a lifelong passion.
This is the official picture of the John M. Ross Chapter, Hakalau School, March, 1930. From Left to Right, Back row (honorary members): J.M. Ross, E.S. Capellas, A. Costa. Middle row: Adviser T. Maneki, W. Ouye, Juko Miyashiro, Seiko Miyashiro, Samuel Maeka, Isamu Takemoto, Matsuzen Nakamura, Taft Penarosa, Yoshito Sakamoto, Minoru Meguro, Ernest de Lima, Adviser Mrs. Lujan. Front row: Edward Maeka, Sadayoshi Furumoto, Takeshi Teruya, Shigeo Isaki, Kuruwanbu Morita, Yoshio Oba, Masaru Morikone, Siberio Santiago, Jikichi Miyashiro. Photo from the Waichi Ouye Collection, courtesy of his family.
" ... as sons of Hawaii nei, we cannot see opportunities go neglected, land lying waste, our people idle, while our money is sent away for foodstuffs." Waichi Ouye, Honolulu Star Bulletin March 24, 1932.
During Waichi's trip to the Mainland, he not only attended the Future Farmers of America Conference in Kansas City, he also visited various sites across the country and documented his travels for publication in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. He was a talented and diligent chronicler.
What an extraordinary experience for a 19 year old!
Nippu Jiji 11/22/1933
Waichi Ouye receives the highest honorary recognition at the Future Farmers of America Conference (Kansas City, 11/22/1933)
At the Future Farmers of America Conference being held in Kansas City, Waichi Ouye, a representative of Hawaii, was honored as one of 73 "American Farmers," the highest honor the association has given. The awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the American Royal Livestock Exhibition. Waichi works as a sugarcane farmer in Hakalau, Hawaii, to support his widowed mother. The Future Farmers of America has 66000 members, and Waichi was one of highest 73. Waichi plants sugarcane on 6.5 acres of land.
Working in the Sugar Industry--1933-1977
Waichi Ouye retired in 1977 at the age of 63 after spending 44 years of continuous service working in the sugar industry: Hakalau Plantation, Pepeekeo Sugar Company, Hilo Coast Processing Company.
Annual reports (between 1948 and 1965) for the Hakalau Plantation and subsequently the Pepeekeo Sugar Company list his roles as Agriculturist, Crop Control Superintendent, and Growers Superintendent. By 1975, a newspaper article identified him as the Growers Coordinator for the Hilo Coast Processing Company. The knowlege and skills associated with these positions included:
During his career in the sugar industry, he witnessed tremendous change due to improved crops varieties, use of various herbicides and other methods to repel or eliminate pests, mechanization of harvesting with its corresponding workforce reduction, and the struggle for Hawaii's sugar industry to survive. He was present for the demise of plantation housing in Hakalau.
In a 1975 article, Portrait of a Dying Town, Waichi Ouye, describes the demise of Hakalau Village. Upon the final merger (with Mauna Kea Sugar) in 1973 the plantation offered house lots for Hakalau sugar workers and their families at Kulaimano Subdivision in Pepeekeo. About 75% of the 300 to 400 who left Hakalau moved to Kulaimano. That meant that only about 300 men, women and children remained in Hakalau. (Jim Rood, Staff Writer for the Hawaii Tribune Herald, April 9, 1975, p. 12)