Farmers’ frustrations grow over lack of resources
Video by David Corrigan | Baron Sekiya (Hawaii247.com) | Voice of Tim Bryan
The presence of a devastating invasive pest has been confirmed in Kona coffee country.
Last week, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture announced that the “coffee berry borer” had been discovered in several coffee farms in Kona.
Now, farmers and state officials are planning steps to contain and control the pest. Hilo’s State Representative and Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Clift Tsuji, says that could include a coffee quarantine.
The coffee berry borer is a small beetle – about the size of a sesame seed – that is native to Central Africa and is also found in many coffee-growing regions of the world. The beetle bores into the coffee cherry to lay its eggs. The larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the crop. Because the larvae are inside the bean, it is difficult to control the borer with pesticides.
A state-wide survey is now being organized to determine the extent of the infestation. The beetle already appears to be established from Kainaliu to Honaunau on Hawaii Island. It is possible that the beetle has been present in Kona for over a year.
It is not yet known how the coffee berry borer was introduced to Hawaii.
The state already called a meeting with farmers in South Kona. A crowd gathered at the Kona Historical Society on Monday to talk about the problem that threatens Hawaii’s world renown industry.
It has been a tough year for Kona coffee farmers. A severe drought has already taken its toll on trees, and pollinating honeybees are under attack from varroa mite and small hive beetle infestations.
The state legislature hopes to be able to assist as best it can.