Biological Threats Loom Large for Local Coffee Farmers, Data Analysis Could Be the Answer

Coffee producers in Hawai’i are fewer these days, and biological concerns such as the coffee berry borer beetle and coffee leaf rust loom big. Mornings without coffee are difficult to conceive for many people who believe coffee is essential.

“Leaf rust is a major problem, and it’s a new one for us,” Nicholas Manoukis, a US Department of Agriculture researcher in Hilo, said. “I believe we are now in a good position to respond to the leaf rust more quickly than we did to the coffee berry borer.”

Because of the fight against the coffee berry borer, the University of Hawaii, the state Department of Agriculture, and federal agencies have formed more active relationships.

Vincent Kimura, CEO of Smart Yields, an agro technology firm, expressed concern about the coffee industry’s future. He cited a 10-year period in which the number of coffee farms in Puerto Rico fell from 10,000 to 4,500.

Conservation groups want a Maui resort to fix lights that are harming native birds, according to local news. Coffee prices have also risen as a result of low yields in Brazil as a result of the drought.

“No one wants to see prices rise, and no one wants to pay a high amount for coffee. So, with these pests and climate change, we really need more research and funding to train and educate farmers and figure out what’s going on “Kimura explained.

Hawai’i coffee producers, according to Manoukis, have a solid handle on applying a biopesticide against the coffee berry borer beetle, as well as cleanliness techniques and pruning adjustments.

“Having said that,” he added, “all of these things cost more money.” “As a result, we continue to strive to enhance our management advice and practises in order to ensure the coffee industry’s viability in this region.”

When asked what the industry requires to address these dangers, Kimura stated that more data is required, as well as more data sharing. Smart Yields and the USDA are developing an app that will offer farmers with data analysis.

“We see a lot of information that is segregated. You can look at it from the perspective of the federal government, the state government, the county government, the academic community, or the farmer community. And there isn’t much in the way of synergy when it comes to overlaying all of this data to operate jointly and comprehensively “Kimura explained.

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