The BROCAP® Trap: An Effective, Eco-friendly Solution to Controlling the Coffee Berry Borer
Growing greener coffee through integrated pest management
Agronomic literacy is an important pillar of farmer’s well-being. SMS field technicians train farmers on sustainable environmental practices to build more resilient farming systems and increase their profitability. Such technical assistance also comes in the form of innovations and savvy partnerships that help tackle global pests, like the Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) with positive impacts on yield.
ECOM and The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) have a long-standing partnership, which has resulted in exceptional agricultural innovations, like the BROCAP® trap, a pest control solution for CBBs. CIRAD and PROCAFÉ, a coffee research institute in El Salvador, developed the trap to help coffee farmers, who were losing the majority of their harvests to the CBB, providing an alternative to chemical insecticides and to biological controls like the release of parasitoids (who kill their hosts) which have not lived up to expectations. Pest management solutions like pesticides can damage the health of farmers and their environment.
The BROCAP® trap combined with additional pest management can increase yield by up to 12%.
The particularity of this pest is that the female beetle bores into the coffee berries, lays eggs and then the entire life cycle of the larvae occurs within the berry, which can cause entire harvests to be destroyed. Sheltered inside the cherry, the beetle is not vulnerable to any chemical treatments like pesticide applications. Female beetles are only vulnerable when they migrate and colonize new cherries, which makes the trap an effective control technique.
In 2000, the industrial production of the BROCAP® trap began and in 2003, ECOM and CIRAD started collaborating on the first traps in Mexico. Three years later, they relocated production to Indonesia. In 2012, research trials started in Sumatra to optimize the efficacy of the trapping with improved attractant solutions supplemented with good, agricultural practices, such as pruning.
Triple integrated action
The BROCAP® is a funnel topped by red blades with a strong attractant at the center and a transparent recipient bottle at the bottom. Attracted beetles fall inside the funnel connected to the capture recipient containing water and then drown.
Ninety-seven per cent of insects caught in the trap are CBBs. Among the three per cent left, none are natural predators nor useful. The reduced use of pesticides benefits the environment and biodiversity, resulting in healthier harvests and high producer incomes. However, it is the integration of the BROCAP® with other tactics that has proven most successful in controlling CBB populations.
CIRAD and its coffee research partners developed a Triple-Action Integrated Pest Management (Triple IPM) strategy to eliminate the CBB. ECOM’s sustainability teams (SMS) support producers in the training and understanding of the Triple IPM. First, coffee farmers collect and dispose residual cherries left on the branches after the harvest or fallen on the ground to interrupt the reproduction cycle of the beetle in these infested cherries. Second, the BROCAP® is implemented to trap colonizing females. Third, solutions of entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana (a natural predator) are sprayed as a biological control to stop the colonizing females boring into new berries. Triple-action IPM experiments conducted in shaded coffee plantations, when combined to good farming practices like pruning reduces CBB infestation by over 90% compared to control plots.
Conquering CBB in Indonesia
In Indonesia, the CBB is even more deadly due to the rainy climate, which allows this coffee pest to reproduce more rapidly and colonize new fruit. In addition, each farm has its own coffee drying facility, meaning that each drying bed or patio can become a source of new contamination. Coffee farmer Pak Karyal from the Muara Dua Village was impressed by the BROCAP®’s efficacy:
A worthy return on investment
One roadblock to the BROCAP®’s use is some farmers’ perception that the trap is simply another expenditure. It is in fact, a cheaper alternative to pesticide spraying with an investment of $150 USD per hectare for three years, not including family or hired labor.
“The problem is that farmers are not seeing it as an investment, but as a cost,” said Laurent Bossolasco, ECOM SMS Asia Regional Manager. “We assume about $300 USD per hectare are lost each year, because of the affected quality and yield losses.”
Mr. Bossolasco believes that scaling up the BROCAP® in Indonesia and other regions of Southeast Asia is critical, where 30 to 70 per cent of high-value Arabica and Robusta cherries are infested during migration peaks, causing a substantial decrease in exportable coffee. Sectorial collaboration is essential in promoting the trap. By partnering up with Jacobs Douwe Egberts, the Dutch-based coffee leader in the roasting industry, ECOM was able to distribute around 50,000 BROCAP® traps in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and support 2’000 coffee farming households.
ECOM is continuing to promote the BROCAP® throughout its coffee-producing regions. As awareness and tangible results grow, it is only a matter of time before farmers start to recognize the long-term advantages of this environmentally friendly pesticide alternative.