ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/02 August) – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has allocated at least P18 million to control the influx of coconut scale insects or cocolisap in Basilan province as part of multi-agency and science-based efforts to end the infestation.
Romulo Arancon, Jr., PCA Administrator said they have come up with integrated pest management procedures since cocolisap threatens this city and the entire Mindanao.
He said the insects are “actually invasive” and “reproduce very fast”.
He said among the procedures they have adopted to contain cocolisap is to impose strict quarantine since the infestation is presently confined to Basilan.
He stressed they will not even allow the shipment of lanzones fruits that are packed in baskets made of coconut leaves aside from seedlings of coconut palms.
Arancon said the quarantine is jointly imposed by PCA police, Philippine Ports Authority, Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Plant Industry and the local government units.
Around 141,000 coconut trees were infested by cocolisap in Isabela City, the capital of Basilan, and 2,400 others in Lamitan City, Lantawan, Maluso and Tuburan towns, he said.
“We should not allow cocolisap to spread in the mainland of Mindanao,” said Arancon, who along with other PCA and DA officials visited Basilan Friday.
He said P3 million had been released to control the cocolisap infestation in Basilan and an additional P15 million will be released next week.
He said the P15-million allocation will include financial assistance to farmers whose coconut farms were infested by cocolisap.
He said another method of controlling cocolisap is to treat the infected coconut trees and release bio-control agents like beetles that prey on the insects.
He said the coconut trees will be pruned injected with systemic insecticide on trunks and later with fertilizers.
“It is a multi-agency effort and it is science-based. It is a product of research and a product of scientific study based on empirical evidence,” he added, citing the research was undertaken by the Department of Science and Technology and the University of the Philippines-Lost Baños.
Efren Carba, PCA-Basilan head, said that based on research the cocolisap was first sighted sometime in October 2012 at a residential area in Barangay Cabunbata, Isabela City.
Carba said the cocolisap could have reached Basilan through a purchase of a variety of coconut seedling that is not available in the province.
Arancon said cocolisap was first discovered sometime in 2010 in the CALABARZON region, which comprises of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.
He said that so far cocolisap have infested some 2.4 million coconut trees in CALABARZON mostly in Batangas. (MindaNews)