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Scale insects infest 115,000 coconut trees in Batangas, threaten Calabarzon
The online news portal of TV5

BATANGAS CITY -- Coconut pests known as "scale insects" have infested thousands of coconut trees in more than 10 towns and cities in this province, threatening the coco industry here and other provinces in the Calabarzon region.

Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) regional director Joselito “Jojo” Alcantara said some 115,000 coconut trees planted to 1,700 hectares of land have been afflicted by scale insects, and are now the primary concern of the provincial government.

Alcantara said that so far, the province through its provincial agriculture office has already treated 26,000 coco trees, and coco farmers are hoping for faster actions because the coconut pests are moving widespread in other provinces due to the windy atmosphere.

Provincial and municipal agriculturists in Batangas have stepped up monitoring of localities where coconut trees are exposed and prone to be affected by the scale insects, he said.

Alcantara also said that the drive against scale insects (coco pests) has been launched in Batangas and other Southern Tagalog provinces not only to help farmers determine signs of coco pests infection but to also assist agricultural workers in fighting the scale insects.

He said coco farmers in Batangas revealed they started noticing coconut tree leaves becoming yellowish in 2010 but this was not given immediate action because they thought the unusual condition was due to the El Nino phenomenon.

Alcantara said PCA personnel together with agricultural officers advised farmers and owners of coconut plantations to prune affected (yellowish) coco leaves and burn them to prevent other coco plants from being affected by the spread of the coconut pests.

He said PCA and local agriculturists are currently drafting a Pest Management Action Plan including pest mapping activities to ensure protecting provinces and towns that could be affected by the spread of coco pests.

He also advised farmers to keep close watch of coco pests spread and be more vigilant against the transfer of the scale insects to their coconut plantations.

Officials of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan appealed to the PCA and other concerned agencies to help them bring the matter to the attention of the Provincial Governor for the issuance of an executive order directing "quarantine" of coconut plantations to protect them from being affected by the spread of coco pests.

He said PCA personnel together with local agriculturists are currently undergoing seminars to acquire more knowledge on how scale insects (coco pests) multiply in affected barangays, including possible solutions to the problems of coconut farmers and the coco industry in Calabarzon.