Officials in Hawaii are on the hunt for about 10 outlawed coffee-growing kits that were sold at Long’s Drug store locations, where approximately 500 of the kits have already been pulled from store shelves. According to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the kits contain African coffee seeds, which are prohibited from being imported into Hawaii.
“HDOA has a long-standing quarantine which requires that coffee plants and seeds for propagation be held in quarantine by HDOA for a minimum of one year before being released for planting to help assure that the plants are not carrying any diseases or pests,” the department said in an announcement of the seed hunt. “In addition, to import coffee plants, plant parts including seeds or green beans and used coffee bags, require a permit and certification of specific quarantine treatment.”
According to the HDOA, the growing kits were manufactured by Ohio-based Dunecraft Inc., a company that produces a number of potentially fun and mildly educational growing products such as herb capsules, tiny terrariums and windowsill greenhouses. The mini-greenhouse-like packaging says “Grow your own coffee beans,” “start inside – plant outside” and “brew the coffee that you grow.” Not mentioned is that even in ideal growing environments, coffee trees can take three to five years before they begin producing fruit, and that coffee requires the mechanical process of roasting before it can be ground and brewed.
The illicit kits, which have been sold in Kauai, Oahu and Kona, were initially reported by a consumer familiar with the prohibition on foreign coffee seeds, and the HDOA praised Long’s for its cooperation in the seizure of the kits.
“The consumer’s action to report this problem shows how the public plays a critical role in helping to protect Hawaii from agricultural and environmental pests,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The Department relies on the efforts of its many partners in the state, federal and public sector to help address Hawaii’s biosecurity.”
If individuals have purchased a kit, they should keep it contained and contact HDOA as soon as possible at 643-PEST (7378) statewide, or the Oahu Plant Quarantine Branch at (808) 832-0566.