ALCALA, FORBES VOW TO ERADICATE SCALE INSECT INFESTATION IN BATANGAS IMMEDIATELY
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator (PCA) Euclides G. Forbes vowed in a public forum to wipe out once and for all the scale insect now ravaging around 179,000 coconut trees in nine municipalities of the Province of Batangas. The forum was held in Tanauan City.
Scale insect, also known as aspidiotus destructor Signoret, is a small plant parasite that colonizes under leaf and feeds plant sap causing the yellowing and wilting of leaves, thus preventing photosynthesis and causing premature nut fall and low productivity. The massive infestation has already changed the landscape of hardest hit Tanauan City and adversely affected the livelihood of thousands of coconut farmers.
Secretary Alcala declared that the government has already provided the P10 million funding requirement to carry out massive eradication measures. "We came here with concrete solutions at hand, and we confer with you on how we can best implement them," he declared stressing the importance of the utmost cooperation of all coconut farmers and local officials.
Earlier, the Board of PCA increased the budget for scale insect infestation to P10 million. Administrator Forbes bared that the agency has already adopted a step by step procedure with the aim of completely eradicating the pest and fully rehabilitating the affected trees. "We will first prune the tree, spray it with a solution of banana oil and perfekthion, and then completely apply the fertilizer to help the tree to recover fully," he explained.
The Administrator added that biological measures will thereafter be introduced as sustainable and permanent solutions citing the inadequacy or lack of natural predators of scale insects in the area. This caused the ecological imbalance that led to the infestation. He stressed the importance of early and preventive intervention and good farming practices since the scale insect thrives also in other plants that are commonly intercropped with coconuts.
"We understand the apprehensions of all Batanguenos having already lost your coffee, cacao and calamansi due to infestations in the past, we will not let that happen to coconut," the Administrator declared adding that coconut seedlings will be provided for free by the PCA for the replanting of affected farms.
Secretary Alcala assured that the Department of Agriculture will provide assistance in the form of livelihood activities and intercropping of corn and other cash crops to provide income while waiting for coconut trees to be economically productive.
COCONUT MEDIA SERVICE
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