DAVAO Region is currently free of cocolisap and specific measures are being implemented to keep it that way, said a Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) official.
"Davao Region is very safe and we have always alerted the pest management control team. For any sightings thereon or any indications like symptoms that are appearing in certain areas, we check it early on," said PCA member of the board Roque Quimpan in a phone interview.
He added that last month, their group suspected about 200 hectares of coconut plantation in the borders of Bantacan, New Bataan, Compostela Valley to be infested with cocolisap because of its yellowing leaves.
However, after undergoing thorough laboratory tests on the coconut leaf samples, they found out that it was just mineral deficiency and not at all cocolisap.
After the confirmation of the results, Quimpan said they gave out tips and guidelines on which fertilizers to be used for these mineral-deficient coconut plants.
"But that was alarming because in the midst of the cocolisap issue, we and the people there thought it's really a cocolisap infestation," he said.
Early this year, Quimpan said in a press conference that about two million to three million coconut trees nationwide were lost because of cocolisap infestation.
This is on top of the 33 million coconut trees lost during the typhoons Pablo in 2012 and Yolanda in 2013. Because of this, PCA pushes for seven million coconut trees to be planted nationwide within five years to make up for the lost trees.
Quimpan also said that they intend to plant around a million trees in the areas of the IPs in Davao Region, especially those of the Ata Manobo tribe in Paquibato.
"This is the area where the palm tree planting projects were not pushed through because of resistance. But the residences there loved coconuts as we introduced it to them," said Quimpan, adding that the areas granted to the IPs by the government through the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title are good areas for coconut plantations as other areas had already been converted to banana, cacao, and other fruit-bearing trees.
Quimpan said they have started eradicating cocolisap in Zamboanga City, one of the extremely infested areas in Mindanao. At present, the city is already 60 percent free of infestation.
One of the initiatives that PCA had been involved in relating to the cocolisap eradication in Zamboanga City, is the use of Neem Tonic, an organic pesticide. Quimpan said it is important for them that the pesticide to be used is not harmful to the coconut plants themselves.
Aside from that, he said they had been active in putting up Comperiella, a biocontrol agent that feeds on Aspidiotus Rigidus, also known as the cocolisap. They are currently improving the production of Comperiella, which according to Quimpan had been proven to not cause any harm to the plant but only to the cocolisap pests.
He said they are targeting about two to three months to be able to make Zamboanga City 100 percent free of cocolisap pests.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on December 15, 2017.
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