Cocolisap bugs infest over 100,000 coconut trees – reports
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Over 100,000 coconut trees are infected with cocolisap, and farmers are struggling to secure a chemical to address the rising bug infestation here, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority.
“I am happy with the rain as it washes away cocolisap, but the leaves of at least a dozen of my trees are turning yellow to brown. This is a sign that my trees have already been infested,” farmer Manuelito Enriquez, 68, said.
“I was told there is no chemical available. I am forced to cut down about a dozen trees to prevent the bugs from spreading. Summer is coming, and the problem will get more serious,” he added.
Rogelio Flores Jr., the PCA’s development officer here, said the agency must act before summer to prevent further infestation.
Flores said a total of 112,117 coconut trees in 51 of the city’s 98 barangay (villages) have been affected by the cocolisap infestation.
“There is a need to declare a state of calamity so that we can help the coconut farmers. Right now, we are limited to education and information, urging farmers to prune their trees,” Joselino Mirabuena, PCA’s agriculturist, said.
Flores said systemic application of pesticide would be the only way to cure infested trees.
But a sachet of the pesticide, which can be used on five coconut trees, costs P280. For the 112,117 affected coconut trees, about P6.3 Million worth of pesticide will be needed to stop the infestation.
Both Flores and Mirabuena have admitted that the PCA does not have the funds for the pesticide.
But City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat saw no need to acquire the chemicals to cure cocolisap infestation.
“We have made a local concoction, from vegetable oil and liquid detergent. All you need is power spraying, long sturdy bamboo tubes and farmers who can climb coconut trees. Using chemicals is harmful as its residue stays in the inner trunk of the trees that may affect the fruits,” Palacat said.
Citing PCA data, Palacat said the city had an estimated 30,000 hectares of coconut trees, with each hectare planted with 100 trees.
“That would mean, we have 300,000 coconut trees. Given the data of PCA of over 100,000 trees, that is almost 50 percent. Yet, the report we got from farmers is about 50,000 trees affected,” he said.
The conflicting reports of the PCA and the Office of the City Agriculture prompted Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar to further assess the situation before issuing an executive order declaring a state of calamity.
“The Sanggunihang Panglungsod (City Council) has already declared a state of calamity, but there has been a debate over the number of cocolisap infested trees. The Office of the City Agriculture needs to validate the actual number of trees affected and it does not jibe with the PCA,” Salazar said. SFM
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