Editor’s note: I used to regularly interview Larry Ellison when I was the chief technology writer at The Chronicle, and I enjoy following his ventures. Later this year, Ellison plans to launch a hydroponic farming venture in Hawaii, which imports 85 percent of its food. The plan is drawing more local attention, I noticed on my trip to Honolulu this past week. This is not the first venture of its kind on an island. The Caribbean island of Anguilla, which we have visited several times including on our honeymoon, had a hydroponic farm at the CuisinArt resort. The background about Ellison’s venture is here:
“Billionaire Larry Ellison is getting into the sustainability and healthy eating game with a new company based on his very own private island (on Lanai in Hawaii),” as Celebrity Net Worth is reporting. “It’s called Sensei, a network of hydroponic farms developed in conjunction with Steve Jobs’ old doctor, cancer specialist Dr. David Agus. In a recent press statement about the project, Agus had this to say about the new venture:
“‘As a society, we’ve become so detached from knowing our food, knowing where it comes from and why we eat what we eat. With Sensei we hope to increase transparency and restore our relationship with food.’
“Sensei is starting out with ten hydroponic greenhouses, 200,000 square feet each. Together, Ellison told the Honolulu Star Advertiser he expects them to yield about 1.7 million pounds of produce per year. That amount is said to surpass that which could supply Lanai, the private Hawaiian island
“Ellison bought 98 percent of back in 2012 for $300 million, and the business plan for now is to sell the produce in Hawaii, where 85 percent of the food is imported.
“The plan is also for Sensei to be a technological leader in the industry, as the company’s president Daniel Gruneberg explains in a statement:
“‘For so long, agriculture has been one of the least digitized industries. Now, we can combine software, sensors and robotics to make giant leaps in sustainable farming and perhaps, more importantly, the quality of our food.’
“Sensei hydroponic farming will work by first importing fruit and vegetable seeds from all over the world, which will then be cultivated hydroponically (in water, rather than in soil) on the island. This method requires 90 percent less water than traditional farming, and the greenhouses will also be outfitted with Tesla brand solar panels for even greater environmental sustainability. If all goes according to plan, the produce itself will be more nutritious and better tasting, too, since data will be collected digitally from the yield to be studied by researchers in order to maximize the produce in those two areas.’
“And in case you’re wondering, Sensei’s first crops will be Black Trifele tomatoes and Komatsuna mustard greens.”
The article is here.