Island of Hawaii Farmers Get Help Tackling Coffee Leaf Rust

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) – Big Island coffee growers are expected to receive $ 300,000 from the state to help them fight coffee leaf rust, a disease that can kill coffee trees.

The money is coming from the state’s Ministry of Agriculture through a bill passed by the legislature extending and improving the state’s coffee borer pesticide subsidy program.

The county council is expected to accept the money, West Hawaii Today reported.

Coffee leaf rust is caused by a fungus. Leaves fall from infected trees, which have significantly lower yields and can die off within a few years.

Glenn Sako, who manages the grant from the county’s research and development department, said in documents submitted to the council that the timely application of fungicide sprays may partially control the disease or slow its spread.

Colehour Bondera, president of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, said in a statement that the program should be expanded to include fertilizers that would help coffee.

He said there must also be a policy in place to get the money to farmers earlier. He said the money for the fiscal year that ended June 30 is not being distributed, although farmers have incurred eligible costs.

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