The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) on Wednesday said that its 60-day emergency containment measure against the aggressive “cocolisap” or coconut scale insect (CSI) infestation in the province of Basilan is now in full force and the rehabilitation program will follow immediately.
“Expressing his serious concern with this [cocolisap]problem, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco ordered the immediate containment of cocolisap infestation in Basilan,” Atty. Halmen A. Valdez, undersecretary for the Office of the Cabinet Assistance System, a unit tasked to supervise the PCA, said in a statement.
It will be recalled that PCA was folded into the Office of the President from the Department of Agriculture by virtue of Executive Order (EO)165-2014 issued by then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
Conversely, pursuant to EO 1 issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, PCA has been placed under the direct supervision of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.
Valdez noted that the 60-day emergency containment measure, which started on September 20 is now being undertaken to reverse the damaging effects of cocolisap in the province.
Basilan relies mainly on their coconut industry. and with an annual production of 163.2 million metric tons of copra, the province is one of the top coconut producers in the country.
The CSI incidence in Basilan increased rapidly from two million trees to three million trees on account of the prolonged drought in the province since 2014 until the early part of this year.
The CSI incidence in Basilan affected two million trees prior to El Nino in late 2015. This increased rapidly to three million trees due to the prolonged drought that has affected the province since 2014 until the early part of this year.
Valdez noted that in treating the affected coconut trees, the PCA will stick to the “integrated pest management” (IPM) protocol being the only duly approved protocol for cocolisap treatment by the Department of Science and Technology PCAARD, University of the Philippines, Los Banos and PCA Governing Board.
“The same protocol was used in Calabarzon [Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon] in 2014. Its efficacy in treating the infected trees had been tested when it was used to treat some 1.3 million trees infected with cocolisap in the Calabarzon area. There were zero cocolisap hotspot municipalities in such area after using such protocol as of last ground inspection in 2015,” Valdez said.
“Thus, in an emergency situation like this, we cannot afford to experiment on other protocol,” she added.
About P104 million will be spent for the application of the IPM protocol, including labor requirement for trunk injection and leaf prunning for every 2.1 million affected trees, Valdez noted, adding that there is sufficient fund not only for the containment but also for the rehabilitation of the affected areas after the 60-day treatment.
The insect pests are known to multiply rapidly during the dry season, Valdez said.
“During such period there can be no treatment of the infected trees since drought is the number one cause of CSI. Thus, the treatment right now [rainy season]is the best time,” she explained.
Basilan relies mainly on its coconut industry. Valdez assured the farmers, that after the emergency containment of cocolisap, the rehabilitation program for the affected province, cities and municipalities would follow immediately.
“It depends upon the extent of the damage of the CSI to a particular area affected, some recover after six months, while some take longer to fully recover. Pending this rehabilitation, we are closely partnering with the LGUs concerned and the Department of Agriculture to find alternative livelihood for our affected farmers” Valdez said.
With an annual production of 163.2 million metric tons of copra, Basilan is one of the top coconut producers in the country.