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Sunday, June 16, 2024

DOST, PCA studying ‘Uang’ pest control strategies for coconut hybrid farms

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An ongoing project involving the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) seeks to formulate sustainable pest management strategies against the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) to protect farms with local and hybrid coconut varieties.

Agricultural researchers said CRB, locally known as ‘Uang,’ is a widespread insect pest that burrows into the crown of coconut trees, consuming the sap and damaging the leaves. Their destructive behavior reduces yields directly affecting the livelihoods of numerous coconut farmers.

DOST Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development Juanito Batalon led the project review along with Crops Research Division Director Leilani Pelegrina and division key personnel.

Project leader Johana Orense from the PCA Davao Research Center said the research addresses the need for establishing feasible integrated pest management technologies for the sustainable management of CRB.

To determine the response of hybrids and their parentals to the different CRB genotypes and their biological control agents, Orense and her team successfully germinated 170 hybrid seedlings and 213 parentals during the initial year of project implementation.

These seedlings will be screened and evaluated for their tolerance to CRB attacks under controlled screenhouse conditions.

Orense said they also collected baseline data on CRB genotypes and their natural enemies from one site in Davao Oriental, five sites in Bicol, two sites in Central Visayas, and six sites in Caraga Region. Sampling in 28 selected sites distributed across the Philippines is still underway.

She said this initiative aims to gather comprehensive information useful in creating a nationwide incidence map to aid in effective pest management. The team initially observed and profiled natural genetic differences in the first 113 CRB samples from Bohol, Albay, and Sorsogon.

Orense said the result will aid in identifying traits affecting CRB’s resistance to biocontrol agents and its adaptability to different environments.

The project is funded under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan-Coconut Hybridization Program.

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