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Report: 26 provinces quarantined for coconut pest

At least 26 coconut-producing provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao were placed under quarantine in the wake of infestations by the Southeast Asian coconut leaf beetle. The transport of coconut has been barred in these areas. Online news site Visayan Daily Star reported Friday afternoon that the Bureau of Plant Industry issued Special Quarantine Order 1 prohibiting the movement of palm seedlings, plants and germinated seed nuts from the 26 provinces. It also prohibits the imports of palm seedlings, plants and germinated seed nuts if sourced from countries or parts of countries with known and reported coconut leaf beetle infestation. Covered by the order are Iloilo, Guimaras and Aklan in Western Visayas; Bohol in Central Visayas and Eastern Samar and Northern Samar in Eastern Visayas; Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Aurora, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Quezon, Rizal, Southern Palawan, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon in Luzon; as well as Zamboanga, Bukidnon and Davao in Mindanao. However, planting materials accompanied by special transport permits from the BPI may still be transported. The BPI issuing officers must attest to the material's compliance with strict quarantine measures, including their quarantine in contained facilities. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo earlier issued Executive Order 664 establishing measures to control and eradicate the spread and damage of the coconut leaf beetle. The Philippine Coconut Authority has been designated as the lead implementing agency. Imports from countries still known to be free from the coconut leaf beetle infestation are allowed, provided that importers comply with strict quarantine measures. The DA said the pest threatens the country's almost P40 billion coconut industry which sustains about 3.5 million Filipino farmers and their families. The Southeast Asian coconut leaf beetle, scientifically known as Brontispa longgissima, is a type of pest endemic in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea that eventually hit palm plantations in the country as well as in Thailand and Vietnam, according to a report on Bernama Online website. The same report quoted a study by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development as stating that the best remedy for the infestation is through pruning, clean culture, and proper disposal of infested coconut palms. - GMANews.TV