Richard Ha writes:
There’s a farming emergency in Costa Rica. Scale insects and mealybugs there are threatening more than 100,000 acres of export bananas. This is brand new information that’s just hit the news.
It’s the stuff farmers deal with, day in and day out. Could this hit us here? Could this take out the Big Island’s banana industry? Are we in danger?
The Big Island Banana Growers has sprung into action. We’ve already sent word about this to the University of Hawai‘i plant experts, as well as the state Department of Agriculture. We already have reports back, and everyone is watching this closely. All the right wheels are turning.
Note that it’s not our Hawai‘i County Council that we alerted for help. They have no idea things like this happen in farming, and wouldn’t know what to do about it if they did know.
Banana Emergency Strikes Costa Rica
by Joanna M. Foster on December 12, 2013
In 2012, Costa Rica exported more than 1.2 million tons of fresh bananas worth $815 million according to the Foreign Trade Promotion office.
This year’s crop could be substantially less thanks to an outbreak of scale insects and mealybugs. Currently the pests have spread across 24,000 hectares of plantations in the country’s Atlantic region.
…Costa Rica’s immediate response to the outbreak has been to import more plastic bags impregnated with the pesticides buprofezin and bifenthrin. The bags are wrapped around individual banana bunches to protect the fruit from the destructive pests.... Read the rest
Note, too, that unlike Costa Rica banana farmers, we don’t use any chemicals in the bags we wrap around the banana bunches while they are on the plant. Farmers in Costa Rica use heavy chemicals in their bags in order to keep their bananas blemish-free.
We have always kept our bags completely chemical-free and are willing to accept the blemishes that result. We do this in the interest of worker safety.
I’ve seen what’s happening in Costa Rica several times before. Chemicals kill off the good insects as well as the bad, they become immune and you get a spike in their population. We don’t allow any of that to happen. Our philosophy with bugs is: Don't hurt the good guys, and give the bad guys a hard time.