Bunchy top virus in Southern Leyte scales down abaca production
by Erna S. Gorne
Southern Leyte (29 October) -- Despite joint efforts to eradicate the deadly bunchy top abaca virus since 2003, the dollar-earning crop production recently scales down by 30 - 50% in volume reaching at local abaca buying stations, Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) Provincial Director Natividad Bandibas said in an interview with PIA.
Somehow a ray of hope abounds for the restoration of healthy abaca in the province as nature appears to cooperate in the seeming disappearance of the lingering virus when some newly grown abaca plants which have sprouted by themselves were found to be disease free in Banrangay San Francisco Mabuhay, Sogod recently, Bandibas said.
Referring to recent developments, Bandibas attributed that fifty percent of the natural disappearance of virus while the other fifty percent efforts were brought about by the interventions of the government.
Of course, coupled with the near establishment of tissue culture center at the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU), the government-owned university will soon fabricate the much needed disease-free abaca planting materials for replanting, she added.
That FIDA now is still at the very heart of eradicating this tough virus in the fight against the virus that threatened the leading agricultural industry in the province, she added.
Almost all of the abaca-producing municipalities, namely Maasin City, Padre Burgos, Malitbog, Tomas Oppus, Bontoc, Sogod, St. Bernard, San Juan, Hinunangan and Silago, all of Southern Leyte, were greatly affected by the deadly virus except from the municipalities at Pana-on Island. That no bunchy top disease incidence were ever reported from Pana-on group municipalities, it was learned.
Greatly affected municipalities were destroyed as much as 80% of its abaca plantation particularly in Sogod town while Maasin City was estimated to suffer about 30% in damages.
She further revealed the extent of damages brought about by bunchy top virus at the barangay level is unimaginable. That in Barangay Lunas, Maasin City, where five sitios have been planted with abaca, only one sitio has been spared by the virus while the rest of the four sitios were totally damaged. Brgy. Lunas has at least 300 hectares planted to abaca crop, according to Bandibas. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]