A bill that would appropriate $500,000 to subsidize purchase of pesticide to combat the coffee berry borer was approved Tuesday in a final floor vote by the state legislators. House Bill 1514 unanimously passed its final reading as amended in its final committee approval last week.
Introduced by state Rep. Nicole Lowen, Kailua-Kona, the measure seeks to incentivize coffee growers on Hawaii Island to use a pesticide containing the naturally occurring fungus Beauveria bassiana as part of their control efforts for the highly destructive coffee pest.
Native to Africa, the coffee berry borer is a small, dark-brown beetle about the size of a sesame seed that was first confirmed in the Kona area in September 2010, Ka‘u in 2011 and Hilo in October. The pest destroys coffee when the female burrows into the fruit and lives its life cycle within the seed, or bean, causing damage that can make the coffee relatively worthless.