2011 Distinguished Alumni Award
BBA in accounting, 1973 University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Richard Ha is founder and president of Hamakua Springs Country Farms, a 600-acre family farm on the Island of Hawai‘i that sustainably produces bananas and hydroponic vegetables.
A former U.S. Army captain and Vietnam War veteran, Ha started farming after he graduated from UH Mānoa in 1973. He returned to the Big Island to help with his father’s chicken farm at Waiakea Uka, where he started growing bananas. Since then, Ha has been founder and president of Ha Brothers Banana Farm (1975-1977), Koa‘e Banana Company (1977-1982), Panaewa Distribution Company (1980-Present), Kea‘au Banana Company (1982-2006), Mauna Kea Banana Company (1995–2004), Big Island Container Sales and Hamakua Springs Country Farms (2004–Present).
Ha has been a board member of the Hawai‘i Island Economic Development Board, Hamakua Soil and Water Conservation District, Hawai‘i Banana Industry Association, Keaholoa STEM Program, and Boys and Girls Club of Hawai‘i. He is director of The Kohala Center, represents the County of Hawai‘i on the State of Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture Executive Board, and co-chairs the Geothermal Working Group.
Ha recently organized community support for the University of Hawai‘i’s proposed $1 billion Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project on Mauna Kea. He also has served on advisory boards for the UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and UH Hilo. In 2008, Ha was inducted to the Shidler College of Business Hall of Honor.
In 2009, Ha was elected to the Social Science Association, an organization of community leaders. He is a frequent speaker at conferences addressing agriculture and sustainability. He recently addressed the Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy on the work of Hamakua Springs Water, which will generate electricity through a hydroelectric system on the Big Island.
Ha is married with two children, and currently runs Hamakua Springs with his wife, mother, daughter and son-in-law.