The Philippine Rubber Research Institute asked the Department of Agriculture to allocate an additional P110-million budget for the rubber sector for treatment of infected rubber plantations in Basilan province.
PRRI said the industry was in dire need of assistance to eradicate the Pestalotiopsis disease in more than 800 hectares in the province, as infection spread to 40 percent and, in some areas, as high as 100 percent of plantations in the province.
Pestalotiopsis leaf fall disease can cause gradual falling of leaves. If left untreated, it will cause the tree to become leafless. Leaf fall or defoliation results in decreased canopy of the rubber plant which reduces its latex production.
The Malaysian Rubber Board, in 2020, reported that the disease posed risks, which might result in defoliation of up to 90 percent and latex yield reduction of 50 percent to 80 percent.
PRRI said given the degree of infection, it would set out a team of experts to oversee the treatment of the affected plantations. Coordination with the provincial government of Basilan was also undertaken for the swift execution of control measures.
The treatment involves a year of mist fogging, drone aerial spraying of fungicide, fertilization and weed management in affected plantations.
The fungi Pestalotiopsis sp. which causes leaf fall disease can also co-infect other pathogens and may cross-infect other crops, such as mango and palms.
The disease already destroyed rubber plantations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other rubber-producing Asian countries, the group said.