MILAN – The coffee berry borer is increasingly threatening the coffee sector in Colombia. The beetle had affected 6.2% of Colombian coffee crops as of early April, the country’s coffee federation (Fnc) said last week in a statement urging growers to take action in order to contain the infestation.
Lower than average rains have aided infestation, the group said.
“This year began dry and in dry times the alarms go off, because the average temperature rises and the infested fruits on the ground don’t decompose for lack of humidity, which helps the insect’s reproduction,” the Federation’s technical director Hernando Duque said.
The coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei), also known as “broca.”, is described as the most serious pest of coffee in many of the major coffee-producing countries. Crop losses caused by this pest can be severe, ranging from 50-100% of berries attacked if no control measures are applied.
On the Covid-19 side, the Federation is working with the government to develop protocols that could help prevent workers from getting sick. The group is also creating a job bank to make sure there’s enough labor and hopes to lure some of the unemployed people in other sectors, said Roberto Velez, the federation’s chief executive officer. Still, he acknowledges that the pandemic has already caused some slowdowns.
Suppliers and intermediaries in Colombia have had problems accessing producing regions under lockdown restrictions. They’ve had trouble collecting coffee supply, while reduced banking hours also make payment operations more restricted, according to Geneva-based trader Sucafina SA.