Mindanao coconut farmers join forces vs 'cocolisap'

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014


COCONUT farmers in Mindanao have joined forces to prevent infestation of dreaded pests called coconut scale insects (CSI), popularly known as "cocolisap."

This developed after three identified species of "cocolisap", namely Aspidiotus destructor and Aspidiotusrigidus, which have already infested several hectares of coconut plantations in Calabarzon region and other provinces in Luzon, and Aspidiotusexcisus.

The excisus specie is found in plantations in Mindanao, particularly in Cateel and Boston, Davao Oriental.

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Speaking in yesterday's Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, Gil Manalo, officer-in-charge (OIC) of Integrated Crop Protection Division of PCA-Davao Research Center, said despite the presence of excisus in the region, it's not yet in the outbreak proportion, as it is controlled by human interventions and biological approaches.

The initiative called "Save the Coconut Movement" encourages the use of methods such as pruning, organic spraying, organic fertilization, and biological control to counter "cocolisap".

The biological approach, in this case, is a certain species of wasp, initially identified as Paratisoid Tetratichus, a fly-like insect that belongs to a aphytis family.

Manalo said the wasp plays a big role to contain the population of cocolisap, and that it maintains ecological balance.

"The pests are just there, but they are not yet in outbreak proportion. We don't also resort ot trunk injection," he said, adding that over 2 million coconut trees in Calabarzon alone have been affected.

Also, what's keeping the infestation at bay can be greatly attributed to the farmers' approach to organic farming, although there are some who resort to chemical but at a minimal amount.

The wasps, he said, were first discovered in Davao City and Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos).

Citing a study, Manalo said the wasps have a certain degree of host specifity which only targets the other pests.

"May isang scientist who did a study on this at may nakita siyang butas-butas sa katawan tapos meron nakitang wasp," he said.

In a report, the Parasitoid Tetratichus combats "cocolisap" by laying eggs to its host where they hatch inside.

A study of PCA-DRC commissioned by Southern Mindanao Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (Smarrdec) did a study on integrated pest control management, which focuses the Parasitoid Tetratichus.

These wasps are effective in keeping the infestations of Brontisspa Longgisima, another pests affecting coconut trees, at low levels.

The research won as the best research paper in a national competition on October 9 last year in Los Ba¤os, Laguna.

The introduction of this biological approach helped Brontisspa-infested farms on its recovery.

PCA is still testing the waters if these wasps can be effective in thwarting "cocolisap" in Calabarzon and other areas in Luzon.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 08, 2014.

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