features from SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES:
(Without Fear or Favor)
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — An agriculturist from the environmental political party Kalikasan Partylist is calling on the Benigno Aquino III government to address what she said was the problem of massive coconut scale infestation in Southern Tagalog, specifically in the province of Batangas. The group said it is urgent for the government to implement immediate and long-term solutions to the problem and provide immediate financial support to the affected coconut farmers.
According to reports, some 115,000 coconut trees planted in 1,700 hectares of land Batangas are said to be infested with the Aspidiotus destructor Signoret or the coconut scale insect.
Batangas province suffered the heaviest state of infestation with 41 barangays and seven municipalities affected to date.
According to agriculturalist and Kalikasan Partylist convener Finesa Cosico, the coconut scale pest is one of the most destructive armored scale insects that infest coconut and other plant species, including oil palm, cucumber, tomato, and banana. The pest is said to grow quickly and spread in colonies, decreasing crop yields and eventually killing the plants that it infests.
Based on studies, the insect sucks out the nutrients and sap of the coconut tree. The leaves will then turn brown and eventually fall. Infested trees, prior to dying, yield fewer fruits.
“We cannot underscore enough the need for the national government to adopt long-term solutions to stop this infestation and prevent its spread. Coconuts are a major agricultural export of the country; they’re planted on one-third of Philippine agricultural lands. Given all this, national agencies should be ready with mitigation and control measures to prevent more possible infestations,” she argued.
Stop the infestation from spreading
In earlier months, congressional lawmakers have called for official inquiries into the extent of the infestation. Batangas Rep. Manuel Collantes said if the coconut pest infestation is not stopped, it might spread to other coconut-producing regions such as Leyte and Samar.
There have also been reports that besides coconut trees, other palm species such as the Palmera, Hawaiian Palm and kaong have also been infested.
Several towns in Laguna, Batangas and Quezon have also reported incidence of infestation.
Cosico said an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for coconut lands should be institutionalized..... MORE
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