From the previous number of 57 cocolisap hotspot areas, only seven remain in the Philippines as of December 2014.
“Our latest report is that, in fact, there are no more hotspots in CALABARZON and the remaining problem is only in Basilan,” stated Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Romulo N. Arancon Jr. during the recent Agri-Aqua Forum by the Department of Science and Technology‘s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD).
The forum was one of the activities during DOST’s 2015 National Science and Technology Week from July 24-28, 2015 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
Cocolisap, or coconut scale insect (CSI), possesses specialized mouthparts for sucking the sap directly from the tree’s vascular system. This causes yellowing, wilting, premature nutfall, and eventually, low coconut yield.
According to PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, CSI has created devastating damages to coconut farmers in CALABARZON and Basilan in Mindanao.
“About two million trees were infested with varying degrees. Some almost died and are hopeless to recover, while others can still survive if properly handled,” said Ebora at the forum.
A science-based Integrated Pest Management Protocol (IPM Protocol) against CSI contributed to this positive development. The IPM Protocol has several components namely, leaf pruning and harvesting, trunk injection, organic spraying, mass production of biological control agents, establishment of quarantine checkpoints, and surveillance and quick response.
“By zeroing in on science, its approach and using cutting-edge technologies, we can find solutions to this problem,” said DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo.
In 2014, a total of 1,660,756 CSI infested trees were leaf pruned in CALABARZON and Basilan and 158, 800 in Batangas were fertilized as of March 2014. Meanwhile, 1,548,528 CSI infested trees were trunk injected with systemic insectide (Dinotefuran) in CALABARZON and Basilan while 686,848 were sprayed with organic pesticides.
Overall, P 177 M was spent for the treatment of CSI-infested trees in 2014.
In 2015, 559,652 CSI infested trees have been leaf pruned in CALABARZON and Basilan, 545 have been treated via trunk injection in Sampaloc, Quezon, while 1.3 M trees in CALABARZON are targeted for fertilization this year.
According to Arancon, concerted efforts of the national government, LGUs, PCAARRD, DA, PCA, UPLB, National Crop Protection Center (NCPC), Regional Crop Protection Center, Bureau of Plant Industry, and the coconut farmers, led into the establishment of the Protocol.
“There are protests from organic advocates against the use of pesticide in trunk injection. Some of the farmers are doubting the effectiveness of the IPM Protocol,” Arancon noted. “But despite these criticisms, we have to bite the bullet and trust science.”
Both Arancon and Ebora admitted that the scourge of the cocolisap cannot be completely eliminated but it will be managed effectively.
Declaring PCAARRD’s willingness to support other approaches which address the cocolisap infestation, Ebora stated, “We [will] continue to encourage our scientists to search for more effective and safe technologies and strategies to manage CSI infestation. Let us all work together, to revive our coconut industry and help uplift the lives of our coconut farmers.”
Various research studies on CSI and how to manage it are continuously being conducted by UPLB, NCPC and PCA and funded by PCAARRD. (S&T Media Service)