The Philippine government reports outbreak of pestalotiopsis disease in Basilan and Zamboanga Peninsula

Kidapawan City, the Philippines – The Philippine government has issued an order preventing the entry of all rubber planting materials from Basilan and the Zamboanga Peninsula following the proliferation of the “pestalotiopsis” disease.

“We have to step up our measures to prevent this disease that will ensure the high production and yields of our local rubber industry,” North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza said Monday referring to her Feb. 3 order.

In her order, Mendoza directed the provincial agriculturist office to intensify its monitoring and mounting of checkpoints to prevent the possible entry of the leaf-fall rubber disease in the province.

Included in the areas banned from sending rubber planting materials are Basilan province in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and the Zamboanga Peninsula that comprised Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay provinces; and the cities of Isabela, Dapitan, Dipolog, Pagadian and Zamboanga.

According to Mendoza, her order stems from the request of the Department of Agriculture–Soccsksargen Region to deter the entry of rubber from Basilan and Zamboanga Peninsula due to the plant disease.

Rubber is one of the major agricultural industries in North Cotabato that serves as the primary source of livelihood and income for thousands of farmers.

Pestalotiopsis, caused by the fungus Pestalotiopsis microspora, triggers leaf fall and the eventual death of the rubber plant.

Local officials assured protocols and preventive measures are being implemented to arrest the spread of the disease.

Mendoza has earlier convened rubber stakeholders and experts in the province to discuss the symptoms, vulnerability, effects and diversified plans to counter the disease.