Mon, Sep 08, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Borer blamed for decrease in Yunlin coffee harvests

By Huang Shu-li  /  Staff reporter

Coffee farmers in Yunlin County have reported a 30 to 40 percent decrease in their coffee bean harvests since last year, a result attributed to coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) infestations.

A Gukeng Township (古坑) official said that since coffee farms were infested by the pest last year, coffee bean output has suffered, as pesticide is completely ineffective in combating the insect.

“The pest hides inside the beans, as if they were hiding in a bunker. Coffee farms affected last year have at least a 90 percent chance of seeing a recurrence if sufficient preventive measures are not taken before the flowering stage,” township office agricultural and economics section head Sun Wang-tien (孫旺田) said.

Since one borer is capable of producing 50 to 80 larvae, Sun said the situation would only worsen this year unless the coffee farms are thoroughly “purged.”

In light of the approaching harvest season, farmers have been asking about possible preventive measures, and two seminars have since been held, he said.

The township Farming Association’s coffee bean farming and marketing head Liu Yi-teng (劉易騰) said that he had been monitoring the situation since he first learned of the pest in reports of infestations at coffee farms in Dongshan District (東山), Taitung County.

After he found out that Gukeng farms had been affected, he immediately consulted specialists at the county government and the Council of Agriculture, Liu said.

Even after soaking the beans in boiling water to destroy eggs, the harvest slumped by more than 30 percent, he said.

When the first infestations broke out, coffee farmers underestimated their severity, Sun said.

The pests got at the coffee bean cores, and prevention methods were useless after that, Sun said.

With weather patterns more extreme and infestations more serious, the harvest in Yunlin County is estimated to drop by 40 to 50 percent this year, he said.

Even though farmers hope to raise coffee bean prices to offset their losses, the move would likely backfire, as coffee is not a daily necessity for many, he added.

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