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Bohol's Philippine Coconut Authority vows to eliminate coconut fest

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By Ric Obedencio
The Bohol Chronicle

The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has tried to contain the so-called coco leaf “hispine” beetle, scientifically known as Brontispa Longissima Gestro, that infested at least two barangays of Baclayon town.

The move to get rid of the pest was apparently in response to the directive from no less than President Arroyo, said Timoteo Lago, Jr., PCA provincial officer.

In an interview with Contact Point over DyRD, Lago said his personnel have already treated a total of 789 coco trees in barangays Laya and Cabanac, where these pests were first detected.

The containment measure was also undertaken with the help of the Department of Agriculture, provincial agriculture technical coordinating office, Regional Crop Protection Center, and local government unit of Baclayon, PCA said.

Lago admitted that this type of pest, which is as tiny as a firefly, has threatened the precarious coconut industry of more than 89,000 hectares in the province.

This beetle is “flat and slender measuring about 7.5 to millimeters long and 1.5 to 2 mm wide. The color is generally black except for the yellow-orange to red color of the neck and basal portion of the wing. The larva stage lasting for about 36 days and adult lasting for 75-90 days are considered the most destructive.

The adult and its larva feed on the soft tissues of young fronds of coconut seedlings and mature trees and ornamental palms. They cause the decay and drying of affected parts preventing the tree from bearing fruits and ultimately killing the tree,” said PCA press release.

Coconut seedlings and oil palm trees or any palm species are vulnerable to infestation of this pest, Lago said. But there was no report yet that oil palm trees in some areas in bohol show infestation.
They can be transmitted by hiding in any clothing or belonging of a passenger coming here. PCA said that the source of this pest is still unknown. But it could have entered the country through the importation of ornamental palms from infested countries in 2004.

Lago warned coconut farmers to keep extra watch over their plantation because the surge has already been experienced in the provinces of Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Samar, Albay, Sorsogon, Boracay and Pasay City. He urged them to report any unusual signs of infestation.

Based on Food and Agriculture Organization, the countries  of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Maldives are already facing this menace that their palm trees are “heavily infested,” said PCA.

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