Community Mobilized to Help Fight Serious Coffee Pest

Community support is being asked for the fight against the coffee berry borer (CBB), the worst production risk faced by coffee growers in Hawai‘i today. CBB was first discovered in South Kona in August 2010 and has since spread rapidly. At present all of Kona is considered infested, and the pest has also been found in the neighboring Ka‛u coffee-growing areas. As with many other invasive species, it may be only a matter of time before all Hawai‘i coffee-growing regions become infested by this beetle. Some growers have reported near-100% losses due to CBB, and the industry will not survive if this pest cannot be controlled.
Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

This past January, twenty-four agricultural professionals met for a two-day “Ag Professionals Coffee Berry Borer Summit: CBB Integrated Pest Management Methods and Protocols for Hawai‘i” at the USDA Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) in Hilo and UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Kona Cooperative Extension Service.

Participants included researchers, entomologists, extension specialists and agents from CTAHR, PBARC, and the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA); coffee industry leaders; and those teaching or advising coffee farmers. The goal of the summit was to organize a standard protocol or management strategy based on best available information to present to those in the industry, targeting better control to reduce infestation levels. The event was organized by Andrea Kawabata and Stuart T. Nakamoto of  CTAHR’s Risk Management Hawaiʻi (RMH) and Local and Immigrant Farmer Training (LIFE) programs.

The goal of the summit was for scientists and the industry to establish an agreed-upon and updated protocol to help reduce growers’ confusion about more efficiently combating CBB in Hawai‘i. The standard protocol for growers to manage CBB emphasizes field sanitation, sampling and monitoring, timely harvesting, effective processing, strict quarantine procedures, and spraying of HDOA-approved fungal biocontrol Beauveria bassiana products. Although many of these recommendations have been provided to Hawai‘i coffee growers since 2010, new information is continuously forthcoming from researchers, growers, and external sources. Updated recommendations will be made available to the industry, including coffee growers and processors, and to the public.

Growers are encouraged to be proactive by staying informed, responsive, and connected. It is suggested they join a local coffee organization. To join the CTAHR extension coffee contact list and receive information about the CBB Integrated Pest Management Methods and Protocols for Hawai‘i and other coffee-related events, contact Gina Bagarino at 808-322-4892 or email ginab@hawaii.edu. When the new CBB Integrated Pest Management Protocol becomes available in the coming weeks, growers should implement its recommendations.

Processors can support growers who are controlling CBB by implementing a sliding scale payment system, so that those who actively manage their coffee farms are rewarded for their good husbandry with top dollar. Summit participants suggest processors avoid paying for coffee cherry with cash—according to law enforcement officials, cash payments of agricultural products may promote thievery.

Consumers can support the local coffee industry and sustainable agriculture by purchasing coffee grown and processed in Hawai‘i and by visiting coffee farms and estates to learn from the farmers about their dedication and commitment to growing Hawai‘i’s superb, world-renowned coffee.

To learn more about RMH/LIFE and events provided by Team LIFE, please visit http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/life/.

 

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