State broadens Oahu coffee farm quarantine to target destructive berry borer

The state has quarantined Oahu coffee farms to gain a better handle on an invasive pest.

The state Board of Agriculture voted unanimously Tuesday to implement the quarantine targeting the coffee berry borer, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser ( reported.

The quarantine already included Waialua Estate Coffee Farms, which has struggled since December to meet quarantine requirements, including permits to transport unroasted beans.

Tuesday's decision broadened the quarantine to include private coffee growers after infestations were discovered at a private Wahiawa residence and the University of Hawaii Poamoho Research Station.

Waialua Estate coffee was placed under quarantine after the beetle was found in two coffee fields totaling 155 acres in December.

In Hawaii, the pest previously had been found only on the Big Island.

"Oahu is a hub for the state's coffee trade, and we need to make sure that coffee beans that are imported to, as well as exported from Oahu, are not spreading this destructive pest," board chairman Scott Enright said in a statement.

The quarantine requires that a permit be issued for transporting unroasted beans, coffee plants, harvesting equipment and used coffee bags from infested islands to unaffected islands. Treatments, as well as state inspections, also are required before shipping.

Derek Lanter, sales and operations manager for Waialua Estate Coffee Farms, said money has been poured into treatment protocols. The company has been unable to ship, however, because roasters don't know what permits they need, according to Lanter.

"Now what?" he said.

Agriculture Department officials said in response that the agency is doing all it can by obtaining registration and licensing for a fungus pesticide that kills the beetle. It is also seeking funding subsidy programs to make the pesticide more affordable to growers.

The department has spent more than $800,000 in grants for research into new management options and education programs.

Lanter said he supports the quarantine expansion overall. But he added he hopes to see improved communications for dealing with the pest.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser,