Ag officials: Kona coffee facing quarantine

In response to the threat posed by the coffee berry borer, state agriculture officials are preparing to establish a quarantine on the transport of green coffee beans from South Kona.

The pest’s presence was confirmed Sept. 8. Hawaii was one of the few remaining coffee-producing areas in the world that had not been infested by the bug, which has been known to cut crop production up to 20 percent.

Lyle Wong, plant industry administrator with the state Department of Agriculture, said Friday the Plants and Animals Advisory Committee would meet in a week or so on whether to recommend a quarantine be enacted.

He said a meeting was held Monday, but due to a failure to advertise it six days beforehand, another meeting must be called.

“What went before the advisory board was a proposal for quarantine of the whole Kona coast, but we will have to do it again,” he said.

If the pest is deemed an “immediate emergency” and the committee passes the recommendation, it will go before the Department of Agriculture board for approval and implementation, Wong said.

A quarantine means that green, or non-roasted, coffee beans would have to be treated with heat or an insecticide before they could be shipped off island.