Kona coffee farmers have used words like “somber” and “destructive” when describing the massive damage done to their crops by the coffee berry borer.
In two years, the industry suffered more than $9 million in market losses.
On Thursday, Sen. Mazie Hirono announced the first major federal initiative to fight the highly-destructive invasive species.
“I’m happy to announce that they recently committed a million dollars for a comprehensive collaborative effort to deal with this devastating borer,” Sen. Hirono said. “A whole group of people coming together to deal with this problem make sure that our coffee industry stays vibrant and strong.”
The borer was discovered in 2010 in the fertile coffee growing area of Kau.
As part of the new program, the U.S. and State Departments of Agriculture will team with local coffee farmers and the University of Hawaii to distribute repellents to farmers and teach them how to use them.
They’ll also research new types of pest controls, create a plant sanitation program and study the borer to develop methods for better control.
The Big Island is home to more than 700 small coffee farms
In 2011, coffee farmers in Hawaii produced more than eight million pounds of coffee, valued at more than $30 million.