The Kona Coffee Farmers Association is pushing for the state Department of Agriculture to suspend imports of green coffee beans into Hawaii in a move the association said will prevent further crop destruction by the coffee berry borer beetle.
The trade group publicized its wish yesterday following a resolution passed by members two weeks ago.
A technical advisory board to the Agriculture Department may consider the request at a meeting later this month. However, the Agriculture Department has doubts about whether the coffee borer got to Hawaii in green bean imports. The agency along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture is studying the issue.
The agency also is considering whether to prohibit transporting green, or unroasted, beans between islands. Another pursuit calls for seeking biological control methods including finding natural enemies of the tiny bug threatening one of Hawaii’s biggest crops.
Hawaii had been one of only two places in the world free of the borer, Hypothenemus hampei, which is a beetle that’s a bit smaller than a sesame seed and is native to Central Africa.
The devastating pest’s presence is believed to be limited to South Kona, and it may have been present for several years. The beetle’s existence in Kona was reported and confirmed in September.