How to Solve the Cocolisap Scourge of Coconuts in the Philippines
With about half the number of its leaves damaged by cocolisap, this coconut tree no longer bears fruit. The coconut tree at the background is dead.
Coconut leaves attacked by cocolisap: above, yellowed and dried up; below, young coconut with leaves dried up except two peduncles with green leaves
Cocolisap is a flying, sucking insect pest that kills coconut trees
In the Philippines, cocolisap has threatened coconut stands in provinces of CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) and Basilan. It has come to the extent that CALABARZON has been declared a calamity area insofar as cocolisap is concerned.
Cocolisap is the new scourge of coconut trees. Cocolisap is a small flying insect that sucks on leaves of coconut. Cocolisaps attack in swarms. Leaves sucked of juice and nutrients turn yellow, then brown and finally dry up. A coconut tree bereft of green leaves dies. I have seen how cocolisaps attack and their damage on coconuts around our home in Laguna.
About 1.2 million coconut trees had been reported infested by cocolisap. About 20,000 trees had been sprayed in the last six months (Estacio, D.S. Covenant to battle 'cocolisap' signed. Manila Bulletin. 2014, June 11,2014:16).
Crop loses have reached Php 179.6 million. In Quezon alone. Some 1,826 coconut farmers reported loses.
Cocolisaps destroy other crops as well like mangosteen. .
Obviously, ‘cocolisap’ is a newly coined word. It appears to be derived from ‘coconut’ and ‘kulisap,’ (insect pest).
In government, cocolisap belongs in the jurisdiction of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). This agency is under Atty. Francisco Pangilinan, the new Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.
Last week, it was reported that a budget of Php 400 million has been allocated by the government for the control of cocolisap.
So far, reports have it that some kind of insecticides have been injected on coconut trunks and sprayed on leaves. However, farmers have reported no abatement on the damage done by cocolisap.
Infestation of coconut trees in Basilan has been due to a mistake in quarantine. Seedlings from CALABARZON were used to replace old coconuts in Basilan bringing in cocolisap, according to a farmer in Basilan in a television interview. .
How to solve the problem of cocolisap?
Firstly, determination on the part of government and coconut farmers. Secondly, application of correct control agent against cocolisap. Thirdly, use of control agent that is not harmful to man, farm animals, honey bee, fish and pets.
The allocation of a big budget, Php 400 million, by the government makes the government appear determined to eradicate cocolisap.
There seems to be no doubt that coconut farmers are determined to eradicate the insect pest.
Consumers of coconut products are raring to participate in the extermination drive. For example, bakers of buko pie in Los Baños, Laguna and vicinity have felt the brunt of lack of young coconut fruit or buko. The buko pie industry is threatened.
The Philippines have been exporting fresh coconut water and coconut sugar. This sugar is now in vogue abroad for use as a sweetener that does not exacerbate diabetes. A smoothie vendor in Houston, Texas, USA is using coconut water in her menus, displayed in her website firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coconut meat also yields virgin coconut oil that has gained acceptance in the domestic and international markets. Oil is used as ointment that can treat psoriasis, a skin disease caused by free radicals. A curative ingredient is taurine.
Rumors are circulating that there is a scheme to replace coconuts in the Philippines with palm oil.
The recommendation to cut down coconut trees once it had been attacked by cocolisap is believed by some farmers as evidence of this replacement scheme.
If not dispelled, this rumor is a potent force to blunt the effort of the government to exterminate cocolisap.
It should be recalled that the effort to eradicate polio virus in France several years ago failed because polio victims and the French people in general doubted the effectiveness of vaccine and purpose of vaccination.
Correct control agent
The requirements of a control agent against cocolisap are effectiveness and safety on the part of humans, farm animals, fish, honey bees, and pets.
Some farmers have expressed doubt about the safety of chemical insecticides now being applied on coconut trees. They are wary of poisonous residues.
The domestic and international consumers are now health conscious. As much as possible the products they want to ingest are organic.
Ecology of cocolisap
A study of the ecology of the insect pest is needed. What species is it? In what order of insect does it belong? Its anatomy and morphology must be established. Its feeding habit should be recorded. Its life cycle, if not yet reported, must be observed: number of eggs the female lays; number of days eggs hatch into larvae; number of days larvae turn into pupae; number of days pupae turn into adults. The lifespan of the adult must be known.
The weather or climate that favors cocolisap must be recorded. The favorite food plants and alternative food plants must be observed. Predators of cocolisap must be tracked down. Is it attracted to light so that light traps could be used to control its population?
The factors that triggered cocolisap to turn into a pest must be studied.
Writing a technical report on the ecology of an insect is one kind of laboratory exercise in the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines Los Baños. With Entomology as my minor, I did a lot of insect ecology reports.
I have a new Hub, "Racing against Time to Control the Cocolisap Epidemic in the Philippines." There are two species of cocolisap now in the Philippines: Aspidiotus destructor and A. rigitus that is introduced from Indonesia. This latter has turned the scourge in coconuts. This Hub has more data on A. rigitus.
Hubs on cocolisap by conradofontanilla: