Northern Mindanao safe from coconut pests

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


NORTHERN Mindanao is safe from harmful insects that attacked coconut plantations in Luzon causing millions of damages, a Philippine Coconut Authority (Philcoa-10) official said Monday.

The outbreak, which started in the province of Batangas a month ago, was caused by pests that have invaded hundreds of hectares of plantations, but Philcoa-10 regional manager Luis Cruz said it is unlikely the same could happen in the region.

“We have everything under control. So far, no cases have been recorded. Farmers are just experiencing the same dilemma but not similarly to Batangas’,” Cruz said.

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Cruz said that farmers in the region are just experiencing ‘Aspidiotus destructor’ in their crops unlike the ones in the northern part of the country, which is also a family of the pest that attacked the north.

The coconut scale insects (CSI) or commonly called as “coco-lisap,” is a small insect that infests coconuts. They also belong to the super family, Coccoidea.

Cruz said that in study traces, they think the pests may have originated in Indonesia, a neighboring country, and best known for their commercialized crops.

The importation of the crops to the countries passing through Batangas and Basilan, the country’s entry points, may have caused for the spreading of the CSI.

Currently, regions 4, 5 and 9 are the most affected regions in the country with losses around P200 million, former Senator Francis Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan was recently appointed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.

In an article by ABS-CBN last June 14, 2014, Pangilinan said without attention from the government, coco-lisap may destroy billions of pesos and will gravely affect the economy.

"If left without intervention, you will have P12 billion losses in region 4, another P13 billion losses in region 5 and around P7 billion losses, potential losses [in region 9], with a 58 percent decrease," he said.

Now, coco-lisap has found to be infecting Mangosteen and Lanzones, as well, last July 9, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

There are also other fruit-bearing trees that have been affected by the infestation with a number of 526,408.

With it, BPI has quarantined crops being transported from one province to another until they are found to be infest-free.

The fear

Basilan, being the entry point of imported products, has been closely monitored by involving agencies. Plaridel, Misamis Occidental, is also monitored by Philcoa, Cruz said.

“We make sure the crops passed through Basilan that have CSI on it will not cross the water to Plaridel. Pag makalusot, ‘yun na,” he said.

He added with the current advancement of Philcoa, biotechnology and bio-control are readily available.

“We have treatment in case the pests would go over [to] the plantations,” he said.

Scientists of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños said that they are doing something to counter the CSI in a natural manner.

With Comperiella (Encytidae Hymenoptera), a parasitoid can eat the insects that have long been giving the farmers the headache, an article published in a national daily said.

However, fear is on how the current wind direction could change, Cruz said.

“Now that we are experiencing hanging Habagat, the winds are in outward direction pa. But once October will start, the Amihan will come in na dayon so the wind will definitely be a factor of the infestation,” he said.

Cruz reiterated that there is no CSI infestation at the moment and farmers should not fret about it but they should get prepared.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 29, 2014.

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