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Coffee Berry Borer Threatens Kona Coffee Crop
The Hawaiian coffee growers have appealed directly to a high placed native son for help as the coffee berry borer threatens the coffee crop in the islands. The Kona Coffee Farmers Association and the Hawaii Coffee Association have appealed to both President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack for more help in defeating an insect pest that has the potential to destroy the Hawaiian coffee crop. The beetle in question was first spotted in Hawaii in 2010 has multiplied into the billions. There are slightly more than 800, mostly small, coffee farms in the islands and they produce a crop valued at $35 million a year. Kona organic coffee is imperiled as well as the rest of the coffee crop.
Organic or Synthetic Approaches to Fighting a Beetle
Cotton farmers in the Southern United States learned to their dismay many years ago that spraying the heck out of the cotton crop to kill pests could backfire. The insecticide resistant cotton borer beetle destroyed crops because the farmers had removed its natural competitors. Although no one intentionally introduced the beetle into Hawaii the fact that regular coffee is often grown in crowded rows tends to encourage the spread of pests. Growing coffee and other crops out of their natural habitat also upsets the balance of nature. Shade grown organic coffee is grown where birds perch in the trees and are only too happy to help by snacking on insect pests. Let us hope that whatever solution the experts come up with relates to restoring the balance of nature and not adding one more insecticide to what can appear in our morning cup of coffee or kill the birds in the trees.