[Headlines of The Connection] The coconut pest’s now named: What’s next?

Two related species of the Aspidiotus insect specie that has been pestering on Philippine coconut trees for four years have confused scientists. Now that the precise pest, with the scientific name Aspidiotus rigidus (not Aspidiotus destructor), has been named, the search is on for the pesticides that can exterminate this coconut insect. (Photo by Lyle Buss of the University of Florida)



BRGY. BOOT, TANAUAN CITY—Coconut farmer Juan Plete can’t contain the swarming of pests that have been pestering his care of over-100 coconut trees here that mother-in-law Elena Malabanan entrusted him. These pests took care of Plete instead, like thousands of other farmers here and in Batangas province.

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In Sultan Kudarat, Batangueño-born farmer collars cash from coconut


KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato–A Batangas-born former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who’s now residing in Sultan Kudarat province was chosen as the 2012 Gawad Saka Awardee.

Roberto Panghulan  worked for nine years  as a mechanical engineer and a foreman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When he returned to his wife’s hometown of Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat in 1990, Panghulan got interested in the grown-up coconut trees at his wife’s family farm in Sultan Kudarat province.

The returning OFW, who’s married to Lourdes Limson of Barangay Sagasa in Esperanza town and has three children, then started to try planting hybrid coconut alternately with the old coconuts.

“I have a vision that these coconuts could be a great help to augment my family needs, as a source of our living as well as support the studies of my children,” he said, explaining how he introduced planting innovations in his farm.

At present, his farm is producing 10,000 to 13,000 pieces of coconut every three to four months. This is equivalent to P4,000 to P7,000 per harvest. He also ventured on producing coconut sugar, which he sells at P250 per kilo.

The farmer-awardee maintains also a nursery for coconut and other fruit trees seedlings and practiced diversified farming (inter-cropping) to increase productivity and earn more income. His coconut farm were planted together with coffee, cacao, rambutan, mangosteen, durian, kalamansi, banana, and other fruit trees.

Panghulan is also the president of the Sagasa Coconut farmer Cooperative and recipient of Kasaganaan sa Niyugan ay Kaunlaran ng Bayan (Kaanib), one of the major projects of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

During the awarding ceremony last November 5, 2012 at the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rice Research Institute at Muñoz City, Nueva Ecija, Panghulan was specifically mentioned by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for setting an example for OFWs to emulate.

The Gawad Saka is conducted every year to recognize the exemplary contribution of farmers and fishers in agriculture and fisheries in the attaining the government’s food security program. National winners are awarded with cash, trophy, and a chance to visit outstanding agricultural projects in the country.