PALO, Leyte- The regional office of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is rushing the hauling of coconut trees that were damaged during the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda from farms for fear of infesting with pests those that survived. PCA Regional Manager Joel Pilapil said that they already noticed infestation of surviving coconut trees by coconut pest rhinoceros beetles. Pilapil said the PCA has been conducting pest control and massive clearing activities and removal of the cut or sheared coconut trees out of the farms to destroy the beetles’ breeding ground.

He said that the pests can cause incalculable damage to coconut trees if left unchecked adding that beetles start infestation at the age of two months, feeding on palm shoots and leaves and attacking young coconut trees even in nurseries. He said that the pests are native to coconut farms as part of the ecosystem but their population in the region was insignificant before the Yolanda struck. After Yolanda, his men in the field noticed an increasing population of the pest and now, “this pest could exist everywhere,” Pilapil said. The PCA official said that 1.16 million trees have been processed into lumber, benefiting some 11,245 coconut farmers with clearing operations being conducted by personnel from his office. (RESTITUTO CAYUBIT)