Brontispa threatens Southern Leyte coconut plantations
By Rebecca Cadavos
Maasin City, Southern Leyte (5 August) -- The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) here are alarmed by the reports that the coconut leaf beetle known as Brontispa now affects Mahaplag town in North Leyte province, around 35 kilometers away from the municipality of Sogod, Southern Leyte.
Manuel Sembrano, PCA Provincial Coconut Development Officer in a phone interview revealed that the coconut pest can be easily transmitted considering that the influx of buses from Leyte towns to Sogod and vice versa are on daily basis.
The municipality of Sogod has around 3,000 hectares of coconut plantation and if the coconut hispine beetle will affect the town, it can damage about 300,00 coconut trees in Sogod alone, Sembrano reported.
Southern Leyte has an estimated 7 million coconut industry at a 50,000 hectare lot area, he added.
The beetle feeds on young leaves, which then appear burned or scorched. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the pest may cause the death of young palms and those situated in poor growing conditions. It causes great damage to seedlings and mature coconut palms, kills the young spears and eventually the whole palm, it was learned.
The eggs of this beetle are difficult to detect because they are inserted between leaflets. Thus, planting materials of coconuts and ornamental that are intended for transport to non-infested areas should be inspected thoroughly.
The coconut hispine beetle is considered one of the most damaging pests of coconut and other palm species, sources said. The beetle already affected the three towns of Samar Island - Eastern Samar, Western Samar and Northern Samar, Sembrano told.
It also affects other parts of the country and is endemic is the countries of Sulawesi, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and spread in the late 1990s to Southeast Asia and Maldives where it severely damaged coconut production. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]