KAILUA-KONA (AP) – Coffee plants and unroasted beans from Hawaii’s Big Island are being quarantined in hopes of preventing the spread of a crop-destroying pest from Kona farms to other islands.
The Hawaii Board of Agriculture unanimously approved the emergency quarantine Tuesday due to the coffee berry borer, which has been found in 21 West Hawaii farms but hasn’t been seen on other islands.
The quarantine restricts the movement of coffee plants, plant parts, green beans and bags unless the items are treated with pesticides or heating methods to kill the beetle and its larvae, according to the Department of Agriculture.
”Movement of green beans is restricted unless it’s fumigated,” said Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi.
The beetle was first detected in West Hawaii-grown coffee beans in mid-September. Agriculture officials haven’t yet determined how it arrived on the Big Island.
The quarantine could last up to a year. It doesn’t apply to farmers who are sending green beans out of state.
Organic farmers could avoid fumigation if they take extensive precautions, including double bagging the beans, making sure their moisture content is low, and requiring that bags be opened in a contained room, West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday.
The quarantine will take effect in a few days, after it’s reviewed by the state attorney general’s office and notice is published in newspapers.
Formal public hearings would be held before a permanent quarantine – one lasting more than a year – could be put into place, Saneishi said.