Hawaii Healing Plant to Be Sold Worldwide
8, 2005 — For
centuries, residents of the South Pacific have used the noni plant
to treat a host of ills, from breathing problems to aches and pains.
Now some farmers and business developers are looking to this traditional
healing plant to expand Hawaii's agricultural market. But what sounds
like an obscure niche market is actually big business.
eight years, Utah-based Tahitian Noni International has expanded
to sell noni products across the globe, reporting $500 million in
sales last year alone.
also spawned an industry. There are probably 250 companies around
the world that make noni products," said Andre Peterson, spokesman
for the company that uses noni plants grown in French Polynesia.
about every part of the noni plant has some claimed medicinal properties.
But the most popular form is the distinctive-tasting some even say
"nasty" juice of the noni plant's odd-looking, whitish fruit.
noni industry in Hawaii is just beginning to take off, said Spencer
Kamauoha, vice president of the Kamauoha Foundation, which promotes
economic development on Oahu.
2003, the foundation was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Administration
for Native Americans to develop an 80-acre noni farm in Waialua
and a fruit processing plant at Wahiawa. Those funds just began
to flow this fall.
last month, the foundation was notified that it would be getting
another $84,000 from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and $75,000
from Honolulu's community investment fund, Kamauoha said.
project got another boost after supporters discovered 22 small farmers
on the Big Island who were growing the plants and needed a processor.
Farms now receives 16,000 pounds of the fruit from Hilo each week
and will be opening up a collection warehouse in Kona for local
farmers this weekend.
it ships most of its product to a distributor on the mainland, the
company plans next month to put its own brand of noni fruit juice
on shelves, labeling it North Shore Noni.
"So what I think needs to be developed, too, is the Hawaii brand
and the Hawaii source as a source of noni in its own right," Kamauoha
idea has caught the attention of House Speaker Calvin Say and Rep.
Helene Hale, who co-sponsored a resolution in support of the local
problem is that we need some help with this industry to really show
people what it really can do," Hale told the House Agriculture Committee
during a hearing on the resolution Wednesday.
also offered her own testimonial. After a recent fall, she found
herself with a black eye. A friend suggested her eye could be cured
with a heated-up noni leaf.
eye cleared up in a day, Hale said.
most of the support for the noni plant's medicinal value is similarly
anecdotal, there are some scientific studies underway.
University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center has been conducting
human trials using capsules of powdered noni extract since 2001.
there have been no adverse effects on patients, there also hasn't
been anything positive attributable to the plant, said Dr. Brian
Issell, director of clinical trials at the center.
funded by the National Institutes of Health, the center is looking
for local funding to continue the work.
think we need some answers on it," Issell said. "I would hate to
not get some answers about noni."
On the Net:
Tahitian Noni International:http://www.tni.com