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Federal government releasing $1 million to help Hawaii, Puerto Rico battle coffee berry borer

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KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — The federal government is releasing $1 million to help coffee farmers in Hawaii and Puerto Rico battle an invasive beetle.

The money will be used to research ways to eradicate and control the coffee berry borer, West Hawaii Today (http://bit.ly/1LSvYXw ) reported. The funds are in addition to $1.8 million allocated last year to help Hawaii deal with pest.

It's not yet known how much of the money will come to Hawaii and how much will go to Puerto Rico, said Scott Enright, chairman of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

The borer is an insect native to Central Africa that lives, feeds and reproduces in coffee berries. It may significantly damage coffee crop yields.

Hawaii is home to nearly 10,000 acres of land planted in coffee. In 2012, coffee farmers in Hawaii produced more than 8 million pounds of coffee, valued at more than $54 million.

The funding was announced by Hawaii's congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Hawaii Legislature has also stepped up resources to fight the beetle, appropriating $500,000 in subsidies to local farmers to spray their crops and creating a temporary manager to oversee the program. The funds will be available to farmers until 2019 and will cover 75 percent of the cost of the spray until June 2016, and 50 percent after that.


Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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