REPORT FROM THE KONA COFFEE FARMERS ASSOCIATION – Kealakekua, Hawai‘i— A new Farmer-to-Farmer video about Integrated Beetle Management is available online to help farmers manage the coffee berry borer beetle (CBB). The beetle has spread at an alarming rate through Kona, threatening the survival of Hawaii’s premier specialty crop.

“With some Kona coffee farmers still discovering the beetle infestation and others reporting a total crop loss, information is needed to saturate the community immediately,” said Suzanne Shriner, Kona coffee farmer and member of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association. “In a region such as Kona, where 700 farms are in close proximity, the beetle crosses farm boundaries with ease. Cooperation within the community is imperative to reduce everyone’s losses.”

Directed by Gary Sprinkle and featuring Suzanne Shriner and Andrea Kawabata, UH-CTAHR extension agent, the instructional video demonstrates the three main aspects of integrated CBB management: (1) Sanitation—removing cherries from the orchard in a timely manner; (2) Spraying the fungus—the only legal, effective pesticide for CBB; and (3) Trapping—helping identify trouble spots.  Techniques for coffee mills are also highlighted.

This video is a groundbreaking community collaboration in a time of crisis. The Kohala Center connected a small group of Kona coffee farmers who had researched and condensed the basics of Integrated Beetle Management from other coffee growing regions with Kamehameha Schools who had the capacity to magnify the quality of this project and access difficult to reach segments of the farming community.

Kamehameha Schools, landowner of 70% of Kona coffee farms, was the primary funder of the video production additionally printing and mailing DVDs to all their agricultural tenants.  Kona Coffee Farmers Association, also a funder, had worked with Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture to approve the commercial Beauveria bassiana fungus in Hawaii. UH-CTAHR joined the project, adding to and verifying the scientific veracity of the instructional material, as well as taking the lead on further extension as more is discovered.

The video will remain available online at www.youtube.com/KamehamehaSchools in both English and Spanish versions.  As some farmers may not have internet access, DVD copies will also be mailed to Greenwell Farms’ mailing list and be available at CTAHR in Kainaliu. The video will be distributed to coffee farmers in Ka’u, who are just beginning to see the infestation.

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