Typhoon ‘Glenda’ reduced coconut pest infestation – Pangilinan
MANILA, Philippines—Typhoon “Glenda” (international name: Rammasun) may have devastated the Southern Tagalog region in July but it also provided some relief to coconut farms suffering from widespread infestation of coconut scale insects or “cocolisap,” Francis Pangilinan told lawmakers on Friday.
Pangilinan, President Aquino’s adviser on food security and agricultural modernization, said there was a significant reduction in the population of the invasive insects in Calabarzon after the storm.
“It looks like there was considerable reduction of the infestation due to Glenda. Despite damage, there was also an upside. Across Region 4, cocolisap infestation improved from severe to moderate or slight,” he told the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives.
“This prompted us to redo our plans for the treatments,” Pangilinan said in response to questions from Quezon Representative Aleta Suarez.
Pangilinan said the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) was actually in the middle of applying treatments on infested coconut farms in Quezon, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite when Glenda swept through the country.
“As we were going through protocols, we were directly hit by Glenda. We had to slow down our treatments, and we made a three-week rapid assessment to determine the net effect of Glenda,” he said.
Pangilinan said scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños reported the reduction of the infestation.
“But we won’t let our guard down,” he said, noting that the pest is wind-borne. “We want to continue surveillance. It’s possible they just were blown to other places.”
PCA administrator Romulo Arancon Jr. said quick-response teams had been deployed to monitor the infestation, with the aim of preventing the spread of cocolisap to Bicol, the Visayas and Mindanao.
He assured the committee that the insecticide used by the agency was relatively safe and had low mammalian toxicity.
“The issue is not chemical per se, but ensuring that we’re able to control the pest, reduce its population and ensure it will not spread to other provinces, especially Bicol, Visayas, Mindanao,” Arancon said.
Some 2.3 million coconut trees have been affected by cocolisap, “not even 1 percent” of the total 325 million coconut trees nationwide, he said.
Meanwhile. at the hearing, the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization proposed a budget of P37.22 billion for the four agencies in its jurisdiction, up from P28.9 billion last year.
The National Irrigation Authority is to get the bulk of the budget with P28.8 billion, up from the current year’s P22.2 billion. The National Food Authority retained its allocation of P4.25 billion, while the Philippine Coconut Authority’s budget almost doubled from P2.4 billion in 2014 to P4.09 billion next year.
The Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority will get P60.9 million under the proposal.
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