Almost 100% of rubber trees in Basilan affected by leaf disease

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — The Basilan agriculture office on Wednesday said almost 100% of the 50,000 hectares of rubber trees in the province have been infected by Pestalotiopsis, a fungus that causes the leaf fall disease.

Halos lahat po. Kung makikita mo sa drone shots, talagang kalbo na siya, kakaunti na lang ‘yung talagang natitira,” Surhayda Aguisanda, officer-in charge of the Basilan provincial agriculture office, told CNN Philippines’ New Day.

[Translation: Almost all the trees are affected. You can see in the drone shots, they are already bald, only few are left.]

On Monday, the local government of Basilan announced that the entire province has been placed under a state of calamity due to the leaf fall disease. 

The Philippine Rubber Research Institute has also declared the onslaught of Pestalotiopsis as an epidemic in the province.

Affected areas include Isabela City, Lamitan City, Tipo-tipo, Lantawan, Maluso, Sumisip, Ungkayapupakn, Tuburan, Akbar, Hadji Mohammad Ajul and Al-Barka, Aguisanda said.

She also noted that 12,600 rubber tree growers in Basilan are at risk due to the leaf fall disease, which is airborne.

To prevent the disease from spreading to other areas, authorities are implementing measures like drone fungicide applications, border restriction, and public awareness up to the grass roots.