BASILAN PROVINCE – Losses are mounting in the local coconut industry here as the once leading coconut producer in this island province has been hardly hit by the infestation of coconut scale insects, locally known as ‘cocolisap’.
This was bared today by Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) and Chief Executive Officer Abdulghani ‘Gerry’ A. Salapuddin after his actual visit in Basilan and ocular inspection in the different agrarian communities in the province recently.
Administrator Salapuddin was accompanied by SPDA Special Envoy for Trade and Investment Datu Farid Adnan Ibrahim, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Hadji Suwaib Ismael, Immigration Officer Ibrahim Lim, and SPDA Liaison Officer Ridwan Mangkabung.
Salapuddin said ‘cocolisap’ infestation had massively destroyed the coconut trees in the province before the various leaders and representatives of the agrarian plantations in Basilan during a consultative meeting at the Grand Astoria Hotel in Zamboanga City.
He added ‘cocolisap attack’ is visibly manifested by the yellowish color of the leaves of coconut trees thereby reducing the coconut fruits and gradually killing the trees.
Earlier, it was reported that more than 3 million coconut trees were plagued by coconut scale insects in this island province. Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol had visited Basilan to personally check the gravity of the infestation in several coconut plantations in the province.
Pinol reportedly said more than half of the total coconut trees in Basilan have been plagued by cocolisap, adding that mitigating measures were discussed during the meeting with the local officials of Basilan and other government agencies to help thousands of affected farmers.
The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) had already started their trunk injection activity on the coconut trees while the Department of Agriculture (DA) focused on root absorption process in a bid to control the proliferation of ‘cocolisap’ in Basilan and other municipalities, however, this effort proved futile due to the insufficiency of budget and the gravity of the ‘cocolisap’ infestation.
Lately, Salapuddin said coconut trees were being cut down for coconut lumber and sold to the buyers outside of the province.
As head of the SPDA, Salapuddin has expressed his intention for a consultative meeting with the officials of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and coconut farmers in the province and likewise urged the concerned officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the agrarian beneficiaries to submit recommendations for appropriate actions by the national government.
(For further inquiries, please contact Celestino B. Siglos, Ed.D. at the SPDA Administrator’s Office at tel. nos. (082)297-6664; 298-5745; email: firstname.lastname@example.org)