The United States Environmental Protection Agency, also known as the EPA, has approved a request from Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture to allow coffee farmers the use of a chemical fungicide in the state’s ongoing battle against the extremely devastation leaf rust disease.
Coffee leaf rust has appeared in nearly every country or region in which coffee is cultivated on a commercial level over the past 150 years. It was discovered for the very first time in the state of Hawaii in October 2020 on Hawaii’s island Maui.
It was discovered in November on Hawaii’s “big island” where a large portion of the state’s commercial coffee is grown. This includes the popular Kona coffee.
Coffee leaf rust has the ability to destroy, quickly, large portions of farmer’s crops. Between 2012 and 2017 coffee leaf rust caused an estimated $3 billion dollars in loss for coffee producers throughout Latin America.
That same threat hovers of the heads of and crops of coffee farms in Hawaii. The market value of green coffee grown in Hawaii in the 2019-2020 season was estimated at $102 million and the value of roasted coffee at $148 million. If coffee leaf rust isn’t stopped in Hawaii the outcome could easily be economically devastating for the industry.