Science, research reduce ‘cocolisap’ hotspot areas in PHL

By Ma. Cristina C. Arayata

MANILA, Aug. 17 (PNA) — The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) reported recently that the number of “cocolisap” hotspot areas in the country was reduced, and attributed the reduction to a science-based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Protocol against the pest.

“Cocolisap” or coconut scale insect (CSI) have specialized mouth parts capable of sucking the sap directly from the tree’s vascular system, which causes yellowing, wilting, premature nutfall and low coconut yield.

PCA reported that as of last year, there were only seven cocolisap hotspots in the country, as opposed to its previous total of 57. It added that as of its latest report in July, there are no more hotspots in CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), and the only remaining problem is in Basilan.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) explained that IPM Protocol has several components: leaf pruning and harvesting, trunk injection, organic spraying, mass production of biological control agents, establishment of quarantine checkpoints, surveillance and quick response.

The agency believes that by zeroing in on science, its approach and the use of cutting-edge technologies, the problem on CSIs will be solved.

Local government units, the national government, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources and Development (PCAARD), Department of Agriculture, PCA, University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), National Crop Protection Center (NCPC), Regional Crop Protection Center, Bureau of Plant Industry, coconut farmers all worked together for the establishment of the IPM Protocol.

PCA Administrator Romulo Arancon Jr. said that there were protests from organic advocates with regard to the use of pesticide in trunk injection. He also noted that some farmers doubted the effectiveness of the Protocol.

”Despite criticisms, we need to bite the bullet and trust science,” he emphasized.

Actually, PCAARRD is encouraging scientists to look for more effective technologies and safe strategies in managing CSI infestation. The agency wants to revive the coconut industry and uplift the lives of coconut farmers.

PCAARRD currently funds various research studies on managing CSIs that are being conducted by the UPLB, NCPC and PCA.

Meanwhile, Reynaldo V. Ebora, PCAARRD acting executive director, shared that CSI has created huge damages to coconut farmers in CALABARZON and Basilan.

He cited that 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, he added.

The DOST said that 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. Furthermore, 1,548,528 CSI-infested trees were trunk- injected with systemic insecticide (Dinotefuran) in CALABARZON and Basilan while 686,848 were sprayed with organic pesticides.

Overall, PhP 177 million was spent for treating CSI-infested trees last year.

As of July, the DOST reported that 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 million trees in CALABARZON are targeted for fertilization this year. (PNA)