Combating coffee berry borer

Farmers in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) highlands are fighting back against an invasion of coffee berry borer (CBB), that is threatening the livelihood of small-scale coffee growers.

CBBs are spreading rapidly across coffee growing provinces, destroying coffee cherries and threatening the coffee industry. These 1.5mm black insects bore into the coffee cherry and destroy the valuable coffee bean inside. As a result, exporters are reporting lower quality and quantity of crops. CBB infestation rates in the Jiwaka, Western Highlands and Eastern Highlands Provinces are very high, causing a drastic drop in incomes for smallholder coffee farmers.

To combat the economic losses, exporter Monpi Coffee has teamed up with Australia’s Market Development Facility (MDF) to train farmers in techniques to control the spread of the tiny pest. Since late 2022, more than 3,840 farmers in the Jiwaka, Western Highlands and Eastern Highlands provinces have been trained by Monpi’s Sustainable Management Services (SMS).

SMS extension team leader, Edwin Wavite, says, “Most coffee supplied to Monpi is from smallholders in remote villages. Most of them don’t understand what’s causing their coffee cherries to go bad. The farmers are eager to learn and are turning up in more numbers than we expected. They want to stop CBB spreading. Coffee is a main source of income for them.”

In addition to good sanitary practices in coffee farming, post-harvest and processing, farmers were given Brocap traps to set up in their coffee blocks. The Brocap trap contains a pheromone which attracts the CBB and then kills it by drowning it in the base of the trap.

Climate change is thought to be responsible for the numbers of CBB which thrive in the warmer highland climate. Movement of coffee beans along the supply chain to exporters in main centres has also helped CBB to travel faster.

The Monpi’s SMS team hopes to hold more of the practical courses with coffee-growing communities in the highlands provinces over the coming months. MDF is also running a social media campaign to spread awareness of the pest and its management.

MDF is a multi-country initiative supported by the Australian Government. It works with the private sector to support men and women thrive in the agriculture sector

Press Release