By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The infestation of cocolisap in Negros Occidental is now under control, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) said.
In a meeting yesterday morning with local agriculture officials, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said OPA reported that the situation is “in better condition” than when they had started.
“I asked them, ‘Is it spreading?’ They said, ‘It’s already contained,’” Lacson said.
“That’s a positive sign. It’s still there, but it’s not like when it started. Right now we’re doing counter attack and headed to victory. That’s how I describe it,” he added.
Lacson said around 6,000 coconut trees were affected in the cities of Bago and La Carlota, and the towns of Murcia and La Castellana.
Earlier, Lacson had already issued an executive order, establishing measures to manage the damage and control the spread of cocolisap.
He designated the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) as 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.
Checkpoints and quarantine stations were also 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 was also given exclusive authority to grant permits for transportation.
The agency, which maintains a biological control laboratory in Bago City’s Barangay Mailum, is currently breeding natural predators of the cocolisap to control the infestation.
Aside from natural predators, another solution being eyed is to prune cocolisap-infected leaves.
Cocolisap, also known as “aspidiotus regidus,” attaches itself to coconut leaves, feeding on its sap directly drawn from the plant’s vascular system, devastating bearing and non-bearing coconut trees.
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./With reports from PNA / DGB, WDJ