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Coffee growers in Brazil face more severe Borer Beetle problem

The local industry and farmers in Brazil worried lot following reports about the widespread incidence of Coffee Borer Beetle (Hypothenemus hampei). Since the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) suspended the use of endosulfan (a pesticide used to combat the insect) in 2013, coffee growers are finding it difficult to contain this plague, which has become widespread.

According to the estimate of the Brazilian Association of the Coffee Industry, while in 2010 the Borer Beetle index was 2%, this year the indicators showed that the incidence had reached 20%. Pedro Ronca, the manager of the Coffee Global Platform Brazil’s Program, which helps in the diffusion of sustainable practices for coffee cultivation, argued that the situation was serious on field. “On my 12-hectare property in Guaxupe (Minas Geraiso), the Borer Beetle index is 5%. A technician came to my property and told me that a few neighboring property had an index of 20%.”
Ronca stressed that the major barrier for the producer today was the lack of necessary techniques to apply the new pesticides available in the market. “Endosulfan was very cheap and easy to spray. The new product demands a greater technical knowledge about plague control. The producer is not used to it yet. To contain the infestations, farmers must harvest properly and not leave any grain on the property, but this is very expensive.”

According to the executive-director of the association, Nathan Herskowicz, there is a Coffee Borer Beetle infestation in the Brazilian coffee park with the main affected areas being Cerrado of Minais Gerais and the South of Minas Gerais, besides the Northeast of Sao Paulo. After the suspension of endosulfan, the market did not have any proper pesticide to combat the insect for three years.

“In 2016, some pesticides were released, but their efficiencies were not proven,” Herskowicz mentioned. He explained that the Coffee Borer did not represent a risk for the consumer. However, the industry is facing difficulties with the grain, as in 2014, Anvisa created a resolution (RDC 14) that limited the quantity of the foreign material on coffee. “This measure came at a time when the sector did not have a protection against Borer,” he emphasized.

The manager of the technical department of Cooxupe, Mario Ferraz de Araujo, stated that the climate had favored the propagation of the insect, but farmers also need to stop blaming the absence of pesticides for this and focus on alternative measures to contain the plague. “Some people defend the return of endosulfan, but I, particularly, do not agree. It is very efficient, but was banned even in other countries for posing a risk to the applier,” he noted.

Coffee companies representatives have requested more time from Anvisa, so the farmers can adapt to the changes, besides demanding alterations in the analysis mechanisms. “Anvisa must re-evaluate the analysis methods of the materials present in coffee, which are not precise. If you take the same coffee sample and test it twice, you will get different results,” Nathan remarked.

Anvisa has informed through an official statement that other products had also registered for the control of the Borer Beetle. “The products, based on cyantraniliprole and metaflumizone, are recommended for the Borer Beetle. They had a prioritized analysis in 2016, and their toxicological evaluation was deferred by Anvisa.”

The agency highlighted that more products based on imidacloprid, chlorpyriphos, acetamiprid and bifenthrin were in line. “However, other registered products based on these ingredients are active in the market, as there is no innovation for the control of Coffee Borer Beetle,” the statement said.

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