East Hawaii News

Coffee Farmers to Receive Additional Aid for Borer Control

July 7, 2015, 2:49 PM HST
* Updated July 7, 2:51 PM
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Another $1 million was released Tuesday by the Hawai’i Congressional Delegation and the United States Department of Agriculture to fight the coffee berry borer.

In May, the Hawai’i Delegation, along with Puerto Rico Representative Pedro Pierluisi, wrote to Secretary Vilsack urging the United States Department of Agriculture to continue to provide needed funding to the Areawide Mitigation and Management for Coffee Berry Borer Control.

Those calls were answered.

The coffee berry borer, known to cause devastating damage to coffee farms on the Big Island and recently in areas of Oahu, will be combated by the Areawide Mitigation and Management for Coffee Berry Borer Control funding.  Both Hawai’i and Puerto Rico will benefit from the funding, which will be added to the $1.8 million amount provided to Hawai’i for the 2015 fiscal year.

Senator Mazie Hirono commented on the matter,  understanding of the challenges coffee farmers in Hawai’i face as the only state within the entire country to produce coffee on a commercial basis.

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“Island farmers have shared how the coffee berry borer has already destroyed millions of dollars worth of coffee, concerns we’ve effectively conveyed to top U.S. Department of Agriculture administrators in Washington, D.C.,” Senator Hirono said. “This funding will now allow Hawai’i researchers to continue to develop effective techniques and provide the necessary tools to help our farmers fight off and contain this invasive species.”

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In addition, Senator Brian Schatz commented on the federal investment.

“In the past few years, we have seen the devastating impact the coffee berry borer has had on Hawai‘i coffee and the farmers that grow it,” said Senator Schatz. “This federal investment will go a long way in helping local farmers protect their farms and limit the spread of this invasive species.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard noted that the $40 million coffee industry is vital to the economy, both for the jobs that it sustains within the state and for the revenue generated annually for family farms.

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“I continue to be fully engaged with Hawai’i’s coffee farmers as we work to fend off this invasive species, which is why I passed an amendment in the 2014 Farm Bill to establish an area-wide pest management plan and authorize research and funding to combat the Coffee Berry Borer. I am pleased to see the USDA’s continued support in eradicating this noxious species.”

Congressman Mark Takai also commented on the delicate environment, noting that it can easily be damaged by invasive species.

“The coffee berry borer is causing significant damage to our coffee crop as well as hurting the economic wellbeing of our coffee farmers. I am pleased that additional funds have been allocated to Hawai’i to help eradicate this problem. I will continue to work with my colleagues here in Congress to ensure the preservation of our island home.”

With nearly 10,000 acres of land planted with coffee, Hawai’i produced more than 8 million pounds of coffee in 2012, with a value of more than $54 million.

The coffee berry borer is classified as an insect and is native to Central Africa. It lives, feeds, and reproduces in both immature and mature coffee berries. Damage caused by the insects can negatively impact the quality and quantity of coffee crop yields.

In 2012, many coffee farmers expressed their concerns over the creature and their coffee harvests.

An integrated pest management program was implemented in 2013 by the Agricultural Research Service. The program was to study and develop a management plan for the coffee berry borer.

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