President Duterte, Piñol to meet Basilan farmers affected by ‘cocolisap’ infestation

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is providing livelihood interventions to help alleviate the plight of the farmers affected by the “cocolisap” infestation in Basilan province.

This was announced here on Sunday by DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, saying the “cocolisap” infestation has greatly affected the main industry of Basilan, which is the coconut industry.

“It is very serious,” Piñol said, citing it is the reason why they invited President Rodrigo R. Duterte “to bring to his attention the severity of the coconut problem in Basilan.”

The President and Piñol are scheduled to meet on Monday with farmers, fishfolks and local government officials in Lamitan City.

Piñol said that three million “or maybe even more” of the six million coconut trees in the province are already affected by the cocolisap infestation.

He said among the livelihood interventions is the immediate provision of agricultural support so that the farmers will have alternate source of income.

He said his office, together with President Duterte, will distribute on Monday seven units of four-wheel drive farm tractors, and corn seeds good for 300 hectares with corresponding fertilizers as well as vegetable seeds.

Piñol said they will also distribute 70 units of motorized fibreglass fishing boats with nets and hook and line.

He said his office has also allocated PHP10 million to serve as seed money “for our direct interventions for livelihood projects” to farmers in Lamitan and Isabela cities.

The DA chief said they are also finalizing a scholarship program with the Basilan State College to be given to the children of farmers, especially those affected by the cocolisap infestation.

Piñol said they are providing livelihood interventions since the cocolisap infestation “has actually affected farming families.”

“We cannot just say that they are coconut farmers and it is the problem of the other agency (Philippine Coconut Authority). It cannot be because coconut farmers are also farmers,” he said. Teofilo Garcia Jr./