By Alex S. Villanueva, Jr.
THE ERADICATION of the coconut pest Brontispa longissima in the city and some parts of Southern Palawan has been successful, a Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA)-Palawan report of the control operation for 2008 showed.
Rodolfo Romasanta, the PCA-Palawan Coconut Development manager, said during the four months control and eradication period, which was completed at the end of 2008, at least 51,333 coconut trees were treated with chemicals in areas heavily-infested by the coconut leaf beetle in the municipalities of Brookes Point, Bataranza and Rizal.
Romasanta said that aside from the chemical control, other measures, such as biological control, which uses an endemic black earwig and mechanical control, an immediate and direct method of reducing pest populations, were also being applied.
He said that observation and validation from field reports revealed the recovery signs with the emergence of new leaf spears from the treated trees.
Romasanta attributed the successful operation to the support of Gov. Joel T. Reyes and 2nd Palawan District Rep. Abraham Khalil B. Mitra for providing funds for the hiring of casual workers to augment the work force in the field and for intervening with the PCA higher management to give priority to the province.
As of press time, his office is still receiving reports of infestation but farmers themselves and local government units are now knowledgeable about the eradication measures that need to be applied.
Romasanta has called on farmers to be vigilant, cooperative and to report swiftly sightings of Brontispa to totally eliminate the invasive pest.
The Brontispa longissima first came into prominence after attacking coconut and palm trees in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Maldives and Sri Lanka.