Mayor orders no entry, no exit of ornamental palms to and from Boracay
by Venus G. Villanueva
Kalibo, Aklan (14 September) -- Ornamental palms coming from other parts of the country are now banned from entering Boracay Island, to prevent the further infestation of Brontispa, a flat and slender beetle that feeds on the soft tissues of coconut fronds and other species of palm plants which has already reached Boracay Island and has started destroying planted palms in beachfront resorts, as well as the coconuts growing in the island.
The order was issued by Malay mayor Ciceron Cawaling. Boracay Island is found in the municipality of Malay. Mayor Cawaling also ordered the taking out of ornamental palms from the island, to prevent the infestation from reaching mainland Aklan.
According to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) here, Aklan is the 24th province in the country to be infested by Brontispa. The ornamental palms, according to the PCA, came from other Asian countries which were brought to the Philippines through importation, and eventually found their way to Boracay Island for planting in the landscaped areas of resorts and other tourist establishments in the island.
Presently, the PCA reported that palms and coconuts in the island are on their different stages of infestation – Station 2's palms and coconuts are 90% damaged; Station I, 20% and Station 3, 50%. Some 3,000 coconut trees along the beach in Boracay Island are estimated to be infested by Brontispa.
Several measures are now being done by personnel of the PCA, the Department of Agriculture, the local government units and other stakeholders to prevent further damage to palm and coconut trees in the island, like pruning and burning infested parts of the plants, using chemical control by injecting coconut trunks with chemicals to kill the larva of the Brontispa, and spraying the affected parts.
The PCA and other concerned agencies are also in the process of propagating a biological predator of the Brontispa, called the earwig. The earwig, according to the PCA, is a friendly insect which is emerging as a "knight in shining black armor" which is being hoped to eradicate and totally wipe out the Brontispa. The earwig can be usually found in bananas.
Presently, the PCA, with the help of the local government of Malay is doing its best to prevent the Brontispa from coming out of Boracay and finding its way to coconut trees in mainland Aklan.
Aklan is the only province in Western Visayas with the thickest coconut cover, and many Aklanons are dependent on the coconut industry for their livelihood. From the coconut, considered the tree of life, various industries had been spawned in Aklan like coconut cooking oil production, virgin coconut oil and its by-products, nata de coco making and many more.
PCA-Aklan even reported that even bukos or young coconuts are now being brought to Manila direct from Aklan.
According to the PCA here, the Brontispa is the most destructive pest of coconuts and other palms, and the current infestation is the biggest challenge the agency has faced since its existence. However, the PCA acknowledges that despite the challenge, tha national and local government and local stakeholders are now joining hands with the PCA and the DA to eradicate the pest. (PIA) [top]