The Coffee Industry Board (CIB), in collaboration with stakeholders (farmers, the coffee growers association and coffee dealers), has set up a Task Force to aggressively fight the Coffee Berry Borer, which poses a serious threat to the industry.
The Coffee Berry Borer is a microscopic beetle that invades the coffee berry in its early stage, eventually destroying the berry.
Speaking with JIS News at a Coffee Farmers Workshop and Training Seminar at Bangor Ridge, Portland, on February 16, Director General of the CIB, Christopher Gentles, explained that the initial work of the task force is to develop strategies to reduce the population of the Coffee Berry Borer pest to a level that does not threaten the economic viability of the industry.
He pointed out that if the pest is not controlled, the coffee industry could lose nearly $432 million in export earnings and farmers could lose as much as 50 per cent of their harvest.
Mr. Gentles said that some farmers have virtually abandoned their fields, thus providing a safe host for the borer, and this has allowed the population to increase dramatically.
“What we want to do is take back our industry and re-engage the farmers to the farms and to reap the berries. Currently, the level of loss has been estimated at 13.4 per cent for coffee that is received in the field. We want to reduce this to six per cent or lower,” he told JIS News.
He said the Task Force will have as its primary duty, the containment of the pest by way of public awareness, training and public meetings, in collaboration with the coffee dealers.
“Our control strategy is based on three planks: reaping and field sanitation (the removal of dried, ripe and green berries); setting some 50,000 Pheromone traps in the field that the CIB will be distributing; and using more environmentally friendly insecticide in order to bring down the population to acceptable levels,” Mr. Gentles said.
Coffee farmers from Bangor Ridge and surrounding communities, including Cherry Hill, Mt. St. Bernard and Mahoe, who attended the workshop expressed appreciation for the information about dealing with the Berry Borer pest and for the free traps that were distributed.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS PRO