Maui News

Major Federal Funds Unveiled to Fight Coffee Pest

July 12, 2013, 8:08 AM HST
* Updated July 12, 8:09 AM
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Coffee Berry Borer. Images Couresy Hawaii State Department of Agriculture.

Coffee Berry Borer. Images Couresy Hawaiʻi State Department of Agriculture.

By Wendy Osher

The US Department of Agriculture unveiled its first major federal initiative to fight the coffee berry borer that has been ravaging coffee farms on Hawaiʻi Island for nearly three years, officials announced.

The USDA will reportedly spend an initial $1 million to set up the operation that includes the distribution of repellents to farmers, researching new types of pest control, and implementing plant sanitation.

Agricultural officials say the borer is an insect native to Central Africa that feeds and reproduces in coffee berries.  Damage, authorities say, can impact both the quality and quantity of coffee crop yields.

US Senator Mazie Hirono joined the USDA in announcing the funding initiative.  In a press release statement, she said, “Our state produces some of the world’s best coffee, and coffee is an important export from our state. But the livelihood of Hawaii Island coffee growers is increasingly being threatened by the coffee berry borer, as many farmers are forced to abandon large portions of their yields due to infestation each year.”

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Fellow Hawaiʻi delegate, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also spoke in support of the initiative saying, “In just two years, our treasured Kona coffee industry suffered more than $9 million in market losses, representing a roughly 25% revenue decrease.”

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Hawaiʻi is home to more than 700 small coffee farms that produce more than 8 million pounds of coffee, valued at more than $30 million, according to information released by US Sen. Hirono.

***Supporting information courtesy US Sen. Mazie Hirono.

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