Non-chemical pest management in organic coffee as effective and more profitable than chemical pest control in conventional coffee

Despite the use of chemical pesticides to combat the economically important coffee berry borer pest, a new study in IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science finds that non-chemical pest control can be just as effective, reducing the need for pesticides. In this study, conventional coffee plants were attacked as much or more than organic coffee plants. The study indicates that organic coffee farms can support and rely on natural enemies to manage the coffee berry borer. While chemical pesticides can help reduce pests in the conventional study farms, it is suspected that they also reduce natural enemies and therefore these farms do not receive the economic benefits of that natural pest control. When organic coffee farmers can capitalize on the benefits of “free” pest control, their production cost are reduced because they do not need to purchase chemical pesticides. The study measured the occurrence of pest damage across three years in organic versus conventional coffee farms in Indonesia. In 2019, organic coffee plants were attacked less than conventional, with a rate range of 27-34 % for organic and 33-49 % for conventional. In 2020 and 2021, the attack rate was similar for organic and conventional management (20-40 % and 28-41%, respectively, in 2020 and 25-26 % and 27-28 % in 2021). Coffee margins are very narrow and many coffee farmers live in poverty across the globe, making the increased profitability of organic coffee farming very important. The success of natural pest control means that the amount of agrochemicals can be reduced in these coffee farming communities, benefiting environmental and human health.


Photo Credit: Andres Hernandez;