MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / June 7, 2014) - President Benigno Aquino has ordered the Philippine Coconut Authority to identify areas infested by coconut scale and to establish measures to control and manage the spread of the pests.
The infestation of the coconut scale has reached Basilan province in the southern Philippines and was widely reported in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon.
Under the order, the PCA is mandated to identify the infested areas and coordinate efforts in formulating appropriate emergency measures to treat infected coconut trees and host plants and these will include mechanical, chemical and biological measures, as well as quarantine measures to prevent the transport of infected coconut plants.
The PCA was also authorized to grant permits for transporting coconut planting materials from one location to another. Authorities will confiscate illegally transported materials and fine violators up to P5,000.
The local governments will also help implement emergency control measures by contributing manpower resources. Local government officials will also help in the massive information dissemination campaign in their areas.
The PCA was mandated to allocate funds for the nationwide implementation of the emergency measures.The Aspidiotus Rigidus insect attacks plant leaves and feeds on sap directly drawn from the plant's vascular system. This pest has affected bearing and non-bearing coconut tree.
Authorities have warned that failure to control the spread of the pest could ruin the country’s coconut industry. The Philippines is the world’s top supplier of coconut products. The coconut industry serves as the economic backbone of 68 of the country’s 80 provinces, employing 3.5 million farmers and bringing in $2 billion in net foreign earnings.