Negros Oriental at risk of deadly coconut pest
By Rachelle M. Nessia
Dumaguete City (5 October) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has raised the alarm over the massive infestation of an invasive coconut pest that could wipe out the coconut industry not only in Negros Oriental but the P40-B coco industry nationwide.
Local DA Plant Quarantine Officer Enrico Amores warned that Negros Oriental has a 99% risk of being infected by the deadly leaf beetle (scientifically known as the Brontispa longgisima).
Amores disclosed that about 4 barangays in Bohol province have already been hit with an infection of the coco pest. "With Negros Oriental's proximity to Bohol, dako ang posibilidad that we will be infected," he warned.
As of this writing, DA has put under quarantine Metro Manila and 26 provinces infested with the coconut leaf beetle, as part of the emergency steps to save the country's coconut industry from this invasive pest.
The DA plant quarantine office has quickly cast a tight safety net around the province, assuring that right now, Negros Oriental is well protected.
Quarantine officers are closely inspecting the entry of plant products and other materials at all entry points here. "All carriers are being inspected- air, water and land transportation - not only for the coconut leaf beetle but other soil-borne diseases too," said Amores.
Amores has alerted and is closely coordinating with the captains of ships that dock at the ports here and the crew of fast crafts that ply the Siquijor-Bohol-Negros Oriental route. "The total ban on the entry of all kinds of palm trees and coconut seedlings is being strictly enforced at the airport, sea ports and land-based transportation, including the National Highway or the Ro-Ro" he said.
The ban is enforced even if the passenger has a shipping permit for these plant products, Amores said.
The quarantine officer is urging the Dumaguete City government to organize and mobilize the city's task force that will reinforce the DA's efforts to prevent the entry of the dreaded coconut leaf beetle. "Let us not wait for this pest to strike our province before we act," Amores stressed.
The city council has approved on June 28, 2007 Ordinance No. 58 or the Comprehensive Coconut Pests and Diseases Prevention Control Ordinance which, among others, enforces the coconut pests and diseases prevention and control program of the city and mandates the creation of the City Coconut Pests and Diseases Prevention and Control Board. (PIA) [top]