By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson issued Executive Order (EO) 23-36, establishing emergency measures to manage the damage and control the spread of aspidiotus regidus or cocolisap in the province.
In a copy of the EO signed by Lacson on August 10, he stated that Negros Occidental has over five million coconut trees, half of which are bearing a potential income of P18.7 million and providing livelihood for some 13,958 coconut farmers and their dependents.
He stated that the cocolisap pest attaches itself to coconut leaves, feeding on its sap directly drawn from the plant’s vascular system, devastating bearing and non-bearing coconut trees.
Lacson said in the EO that the massive infestation of cocolisap poses a very serious threat to the coconut industry and to the livelihood of those who depend on it.
He said that to ensure the preservation and development of a vital industry, there is a need to put in place immediate and comprehensive measures to effectively control, manage and eventually eradicate insect infestation.
Under the EO, Lacson said the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) shall be the lead agency in the province-wide effort to control and contain the cocolisap infestation, in partnership with the provincial government, local government units and agencies.
The PCA, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, shall also formulate and prescribe the necessary and appropriate emergency measures and methodologies in the treatment of coconut trees and other host plants.
Checkpoints and quarantine stations will also be formed to prevent the transportation of coconut leaves, fronds, coconut saplings, and other raw or unprocessed coconut products to stop the spread of the infestation.
The PCA will be given exclusive authority to grant permits for transportation.
Dr. Dina Genzola, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist officer-in-charge, said the PCA and several partner agencies are continuing the investigation on the cocolisap infestation.
The PCA maintains a biological control laboratory in Bago City’s Barangay Mailum.
Currently, local agriculturists and farmers are being trained to culture insect predators that specifically target pests.
Last week, the PCA confirmed cocolisap bug infestation in the cities of Bago and La Carlota and the towns of Murcia and La Castellana, based on monitoring.
According to PestNet, a network that helps planters obtain rapid advice for crop protection, cocolisap infestation in the country was first detected in Batangas in 2009, although scientists traced its origin to Indonesia’s Sangi Island in the 1920s.
Since then, cocolisap outbreaks have taken place in the country. The worst was in 2014, when 2.1 million coconut trees in Calabarzon and parts of Mindanao were affected./DGB, WDJ