An organic oil spray proven to eradicate coconut scale insects (CSI) in 48 hours has been developed and is being used in heavily affected areas in Batangas.
CropGuard, developed by ChemRez Technologies Inc. and distributed by Sinochem Crop Protection Philippines, Inc., has been registered with the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) and has been granted emergency use approval. Its efficiency was tested in Calabarzon areas and Basilan, where there was heavy infestation of Aspidiotus rigidus (also known as coconut scale insects).
“Coconut farms that have used it report complete eradication in seven to 10 days,” said Bernard Canapi, Sinochem country director.
Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, who jointly filed House Resolution 1235 seeking a congressional inquiry into the CSI scourge, said the damage from the infestation—which has so far affected 3.5 million coconut farmers—has reached P179.6 million in Calabarzon alone. The problem continues to threaten 338 million coconut trees in other regions.
The Philippine Coconut Authorty said it had embarked on such measures as biological control, pruning of leaves of affected trees and injection of neonicotinoids, a new type of insecticide similar to nicotine. However, farmers oppose the use of neo–nicotinoids due to their alleged negative effects, including the poisoning of the xylem and phloem of trees.
“Cropguard is an organic based made from a 100-percent edible plant source and is not listed as an organic pollutant,” said Canapi. “It is safe both to coconut trees and to coconut farmers.” Jun Lao, managing director of Chemrez, added that Cropguard has received several approval and certification. It is registered as organic material for organic farming with BAFS pursuant to the Organic Farming Act. It is approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for use in organic production and processing products under the USDA National Organic Program and it is generally regarded as safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “We want to give farmers an organic option against cocolisap,” Lao added.
Spraying organic pesticide is one of the measures that would be employed in the Scale Insect Emergency Action Program, a six-month emergency program recently launched by the government to contain the coconut scale infestation that has already affected 1.7 million coconut trees.
The government has earmarked P460 million for the implementation of the first phase of the project that would run from June to August, while P204 million and P88 million has been allocated for the second and third phases of the program, respectively.
The scale insects attacking coconut plants feed on sap drawn from the plant’s vascular system, resulting in the yellowing of leaves, progressing to drying and wilting in young and old palms. Premature nut fall also contributes to yield reduction.