Home Page Photo montage
Out thoughts on coffee
Current projects
Past projects
Technical services
Resource centre

Back to the

CABI Commodities Home Page

CABI Bioscience Home Page

CABI-Publishing Home Page


About CABI Commodities Cocoa CABI Commodities around the world
Go back

Integrated management of the Coffee Berry Borer


Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and counterpart contributions from national programmes


Project staff at on-farm IPM plot in India.

International Coffee Organization (ICO) (Supervisory Body), Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café (CENICAFE; Colombia), Programa Cooperativo Regional para el Desarrollo Tecnológico y la Modernización de la Caficultura (PROMECAFE; Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica & Mexico), Asociación Nacional de Exportadores de Café (ANECAFE; Ecuador), Coffee Board of India, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Project Description

CBB trap & farmer experiment

Problem/Issue. The coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) (CBB) is a black beetle 2mm in length, believed to have originated in Central Africa. It spread from its centre of origin through trade and is at present considered one of the most significant and widespread insect pests affecting coffee production across Africa, Asia and Central and South America. Damage is caused by the female which bores into green coffee berries to lay her eggs, producing legless white larvae that feed on the substance of the beans for up to 3 weeks. Economic damage caused is twofold: - premature fall of cherries and hence total loss of these to production; - damaged cherries are retained on the tree until harvest, making them of lower commercial value by reducing weight of the bean and downgrading the quality and affecting the flavour of the coffee. Losses due to CBB were estimated in 1994/5 to amount to: - 2.18 million bags in Central America, then worth approximately USD 328 million; - infestation of 650,000 hectares of coffee plantations in Colombia, reducing the estimated national crop production from 13 million to 11.5 million bags, at an estimated cost in excess of USD 100 million.

Phymasticus pupa inside coffee berry borer

Measures to Date. Control of the pest has always been difficult and costly. Chemical control during the 1950s employed insecticides such as dieldrin and BHC. These were largely superseded in the 1960s by endosulfan, generally regarded as the most effective chemical in use, but a Category 1 poison nonetheless. CBB is also difficult to control by spraying as much of its lifecycle occurs deep inside the berry. Cultural control methods have a limited impact and include complete harvesting of all fruit from coffee trees and collection of fallen fruit from the ground at the end of the harvest season, but this is laborious and

SEM Phymasticus adult (colourised blue)

expensive. Biological control - There are comparatively few known natural enemies of the borer. A number of parasitic wasps attack the CBB in its African centre of origin (Cephalonomia stephanoderis, Prorops nasuta, Phymasticus coffea and Heterospilus coffeicola), as do parasitic fungi (e.g. Beauvaria bassiana), but their effectiveness is still under investigation.

Project Activities. Neither the application of chemicals, nor the cultural or biological methods have proved to be sufficiently effective as the single technology for the control of the pest. However, each may have an important contribution to make in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system. The project aims to develop locally relevant and affordable integrated management systems for the coffee berry borer using biological and cultural systems. The methods to be used include the introduction of biological control agents, the development of mass rearing and augmentative release strategies for the biological control agents, the integration of cultural practices such as ReRe, and the use of fungal pathogens for berry borer control. Where necessary, the judicious use of agrochemicals will continue to be used. Function and technical support will be provided to the participating countries to enable them to validate and carry out the transfer and distribution of the IPM techniques to a broad range of coffee producers in the participating countries and other affected countries. The project brings together different experience and technological know-how from Central America, South America and South Asia, and facilitates exchanges of experience and technology transfer through an international collaborative network on coffee berry borer. The project is funded by the Common Fund for Commodities and managed by CABI Commodities.

Achievements So Far

Rearing and Releasing Phymasticus:

  • All countries have now received shipments of Phymasticus coffea, and nearly 2 million have been released into the field in Colombia;
  • Wasp cultures exist in Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica and India, with encouraging field releases in Ecaudor, Guatemala and Honduras, though progress in mass rearing work at USDA has been slower than hoped.

Farmer Participatory IPM Plots/On-farm Experiments: Some exemplary efforts in farmer participatory research have occurred, including:

  • Developing an original model for farmer-scientist collaboration in Colombia;
  • Confidence building between extensionists and farmers in India, with the incorporation of small farmers into 50 on-farm IPM Pilot Plots.

For more information about the farmer participatory research carried out in Colombia and the coffee communities there, visit the farmer's website (in Spanish):

Dissemination & Training: Extensive Training and Training of Trainer (ToT) courses have taken place in all countries. In 2000 training activities included:

  • 130 extensionists/research scientists in India on field assessment techniques;
  • The implementation of a pilot project for 40 farmer participative methods workshops;
  • 1000+ farmers, schoolchildren and teachers in Ecuador on agro-forestry issues.

In 2001 a further 46 farmer groups have been established in India, reinforcing the 3-way process between researchers, extensionists and farmers, and invloving regional technical workshops. A women empowerment programme has also been started with a workshop on IPM of CBB exclusively for woemen carried out in Kalpetta - 55 women attended this event and similar workshops were held in Somwarpet and Kodagu.

Over the last year, the mass rearing work at USDA has achieved some important milestones. It is now possible to continuously rear CBB without replenisment from the field, and without loss of vigour for 20 plus generations. Although some technical hurdles remain, there is a clear indication that it will become possible to mass-produce Phymastichus wasps at prices comparable, or cheaper, than standard methods (hand removal or insecticides).

A recent cost model developed by Dr. Adrian Leach makes a compelling case that this technology is now worthy of passing to a pilot stage. CBB mass production has come of age and Phymastichus mass rearing is fast becoming a plausible alternative to laborious and toxic alternatives.

The two basic thrusts of the present project (introduction of biological control in an IPM framework and farmer-based studies and interaction) have been accepted with a broad measure of success in all countries. The main concern is that the magnitude of the present coffee crisis has tended to overshadow the advances gained. But there is no doubt that the viability of these two initiatives has been affirmed by the nature of the crisis. It is very clear that biological control can be a very cost-effective way of controlling insects, especially when prices are so depressed that there are few alternatives. It is equally clear that farmer-centred research and extension must be an important future plank of any coffee revival

What Next

Work to date indicates that the rearing, release and establishment of the CBB parasitoid Phymasticus, has progressed successfully, and there are very positive indications for future cost-effective biological control of CBB (see above). There are also good indications that the Farmer Participatory Work and Training will be sustained after the life of the project, with themes including cultural control methods, shade regulation and weed control. It is hoped that once this project ends a pilot project for CBB mass production can be developed and funding sought.

The final few months of the project to May 2002 will comprise the production of a number of information products, including farmer field manuals, and final project workshops and dissemination activities. The final project presentation will be made at the ICO, London, in May 2002, and project documents and publications will be made available soon afterwards.

Dr. Peter Baker (Co-ordinator) p.baker@cabi.org
Simon Lea (Administrator) s.lea@cabi.org

Start date: April 1998

End date: May 2002

Page up

Contact CABI Commodities:
CABI Commodities Coffee Co-ordinator - Dr. Peter Baker - p.baker@cabi.org
CABI Commodities Cocoa Co-ordinator - Dr. J. Flood - j.flood@cabi.org
CABI Commodities Project Administrator - cabi-commodities@cabi.org