DA okays P110M addt’l funds requested by PH Rubber Research Institute

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the allocation of P110 million in additional funds requested by the Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI) to treat infected rubber plantations in Basilan.

Rubber trees (Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture)

According to the agriculture department, the supplemental budget was necessary following the outbreak of Pestalotiopsis disease in more than 800 hectares of plantation in the province, infecting 40 to 100 percent of the trees.

“Pestalotiopsis leaf fall disease can cause gradual falling of leaves. If left untreated, it will cause the tree to become leafless,” the DA said in a statement.

It explained that leaf fall or defoliation results to the decrease in the number of canopy of the rubber plant which decreases its latex production.

The DA said a team of experts will be assembled by PRRI to oversee the treatment of the afflicted plantations in light of the severity of the virus.

“Coordination with the provincial government of Basilan has also been undertaken for the swift execution of control measures,” it added.

The agriculture department said the rubber trees will receive mist fogging, fungicide aerial spraying with drones, fertilizing, and weed control as part of a one-year treatment plan.

“The fungi Pestalotiopsis sp. which cause leaf fall disease can co-infect other pathogens and may cross-infect other crops, such as mango and palms which are also massively produced in BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” the DA said.

In 2020, the Malaysian Rubber Board reported that the disease posed a risk and might cause up to 90 percent defoliation and a 50 to 80 percent drop in latex yield.

“The disease has already destroyed rubber plantations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other rubber-producing Asian countries,” agriculture department stated.