The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said government efforts last year have helped cut the incidence of coconut scale insect (CSI) infestation in the Philippines from 57 hotspots to only seven.

“By zeroing in on science, its approach and using cutting-edge technologies, we can find solutions to this problem,” DOST Secretary Mario Go Montejo said.

In 2014, scientists and researchers of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Department of Agriculture, and the University of the Philippines came up with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) protocol to curb the infestation of CSI or cocolisap in the country.

Montejo endorsed the use of the IPM protocol to Food Security Secretary Francis Pangilinan as a weapon against CSI.

This protocol proved successful as reported by PCA Administrator Romulo Arancon Jr.

“Our latest report is that there are no more hotspots in the Calabarzon area and the remaining problem is only in Basilan,” Arancon said at the recent PCAARRD Agri-Aqua Forum.

PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo B. Ebora recalled that at the height of the cocolisap infestation, around 2 million trees suffered from varying degrees of affliction.

“Some trees almost died while others can survive if properly handled,” he added.

Ebora said embedded in the protocol are several components, including leaf pruning and harvesting, trunk injection, organic spraying, mass production of biological control agents, establishment of quarantine checkpoints, surveillance, and quick response.

DOST said the overall cost for the treatment of cocolisap infested trees reached an estimate of PHP 177 million.

While the cocolisap cannot be totally eliminated, Ebora and Arancon expressed hopes it will be managed effectively.