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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Central Visayas mango weevil free, researchers say

Yes, it’s true. Central Visayas is free from the mango seed and pulp weevils. This is according to researchers from the Department of Agriculture–Provincial Agricultural Technology Coordinating Office (DA-PATCO) Region 7 and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

The researchers conducted detection surveys in 130 municipalities – 51 in Cebu, 48 in Bohol, 25 in Negros Oriental, and 6 in Siquijor. The survey involved more than 30,000 trees, 78% of which are in backyards and 22% are grown in plantation. More than 362,000 fruits were collected, dissected, and examined for the presence or absence of seed and pulp weevils. Not a single specimen – egg, larva, pupa or adult of of the mango seed weevil (MSW) and mango pulp weevil (MPW), was detected.

The survey provided scientific evidence for the absence of the dreaded weevils in Central Visayas. Canopy beating and bark examination were also done in detecting the weevils and further confirmed the result.

The alleged presence of MSW, Sternochetus mangiferae, kept the Philippines from exporting mangoes to the US and Australia. A national survey conducted in 1987 failed to detect the seed weevil from 33 mango-growing provinces. However, a related species, the MPW, Sternochetus frigidus, was found in Palawan and posed a setback for the mango industry. The pest attacks during the fruit-bearing stage and the damage is not visible externally. Infected fruits may fall prematurely or rot inside due to the pulp-feeding larva.

Undeterred by the Palawan experience, Marina Viniegas of DA-PATCO led a team of researchers to conduct the “National Mango Weevil Survey in Central Visayas”. The project, funded by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food for Progress and implemented by BPI, conducted the detection survey from October 2007 to July 2008. Two low monitoring surveys were also done from January 2009 to June 2009 and from March 2010 to July 2010.

The researchers recommended the need to expand more production areas in the country to enable export of quality mangoes to the US and other countries. Also, they recommended the following: (1) Local government units should request the Department of Agriculture for an issuance of an administrative order, declaring their provinces free from MPW and MSW; (2) Low monitoring surveys should also be continued to safeguard the weevil-free areas; (3) Massive campaigns on public awareness about this project should be done to engage the people to keep the region free from the pests; (4) Fast track the area freedom certification of the region and to request USDA not to impose further regulatory or export fees; (5) Growers should increase production of better quality fruits; (6) Concerned agencies should disseminate and implement the good agricultural practices (GAP) for mango; and (7) Other important pests should be dealt with using integrated crop and pest management.

Results of the survey were presented during the 2010 Regional Symposium on R&D Highlights of the Central Visayas Consortium for Integrated Regional Research and Development, one of the 14 regional consortia-partners of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD). Abigail May O. Retuta, S&T Media Service

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