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U.S. Department of Agriculture commits $1 million to combat invasive coffee berry borer

By B.J. Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 2:19 a.m. HST, Jul 12, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is committing $1 million to set up a comprehensive program to combat the invasive species known as the coffee berry borer that farmers say has increased exponentially across farms on Hawaii island since its discovery in 2010.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono announced the first-of-its kind program Thursday during a conference call with reporters.

The program requires no state matching funds but comes on the heels of legislation signed recently by Gov. Neil Abercrombie appropriating $550,000 over the next two years to combat the borer, a small beetle harmful to coffee crops worldwide that has infested coffee crops in the Kona and South Kona regions.

“It is a major threat to the viability of our coffee industry,” Hirono said.

The program aims to work with state agriculture officials, farmers and the University of Hawaii to set up repellent distribution and training programs, a plant sanitation program aimed at preventing the spread of the borer, and research programs into new types of pest controls and the genome of the species itself, Hirono said.

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