ZAMBOANGA CITY: Close to 1,000 coconut farmer owners and workers in Isabela City in Basilan have suffered income losses after 107,356 coconut trees and coconut seedlings were reportedly damaged caused by cocolisap, a swarm of coconut scale insects that often attack coconut trees during dry spell period.
Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Provincial Development Manager Efren Carba told The Manila Times that the damage cost of different plantations have already reached an estimate of P 18 million and if left unattended this will certainly have an adverse economic effect not only to the coconut farm stakeholders but also those workers in the oil milling industry.
Carba said his office also received reports that other trees like lansones, banana and papaya were also affected by the swarm of scale pests in Isabela.
PCA earlier requested its research office from Davao to address the growing damage in Basilan and a team introduced bio control measures like the introduction of parasite beatles which can terminate the pests by eating them. The bio control seems to be of little effect since more coconut trees were reportedly damaged.
Carba furter recommended the continuous pruning and burning of infested parts of coconut trees to minimize the extent of damage.
In Zamboanga City, particularly in Barangay Sinunuc, a group of farmers reported yellowish coconut trees that were showing symptoms of the presence of scale insect pests. Carba immediately sent a team of specialists to the area but reported a false alarm. The yellowish symptoms of coconut were caused by worm-insects which are more manageable and less destructive.
Carba further appealed to the Quarantine Office of the Department of Agriculture in Zamboanga to quarantine all coco products coming from Basilan and these include coco seedling and co- conut shells.
“We should be watchful and vigilant so these pests will not infest our coconut trees here in Zamboanga,” Carba added.
The PCA reported that 18 villages have already confirmed the presence of these scale pests in Isabela City in Basilan. Isabela has 45 barangays and 33 of these barangays are with huge coconut plantations.