In response to the pressing issue of the Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease (PLFD) affecting rubber trees in the municipality of Trento, Agusan del Sur, an emergency meeting was convened on January 10, 2024. The Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI), represented by Dr. Jill Villanueva, Training Specialist III, and Ms. Ma. Nita Roldan, Science Research Analyst, actively participated in this crucial gathering with the CARAGA Crop Pest Management – Regional Technical Working Group (CPM-RTWG).

The primary objective of the meeting was to provide updates on the current status of PLFD in the region and to formulate strategic plans for effective intervention and management control. The urgent need for a coordinated response became evident due to the declaration of a state of calamity in LGU-Trento, underscoring the severity of the damage caused by the disease.

Chaired by Mr. Abel F. Wagas, the Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations, the meeting delved into the specifics outlined in Resolution No. 0523–2023. This resolution officially declared a state of calamity in the Municipality of Trento, Agusan del Sur, attributing it to the infestation of Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease on rubber trees.

During the deliberations, Dr. Jill Villanueva highlighted the crucial role of PRRI in conducting surveillance to support the data collection efforts of LGU-Trento. Emphasizing the importance of accurate and comprehensive data, Dr. Villanueva’s stance was reinforced by Ms. Jiji Espinosa from the Bureau of Plant Industry, who echoed the necessity for a well-informed response.

Among the key participants in the meeting were Chief Escolastico S. Cagatin and staff from the Trento Research Station, Chief Reynaldo Udarbe and staff from the Regional Crop Protection Center, and Chief Edelmira R. Luminarias and staff from the Research Division. Additionally, representatives from DA-APCO, LGU-Tagbina, LGU-Trento, LGU-Bislig, and LGU-Sta. Josefa was present, demonstrating a collaborative effort across various agencies.

The attendees expressed gratitude for the initiatives led by Dr. Cheryl L. Eusala, the Executive Director of PRRI, in addressing the crisis. The collaborative spirit displayed during the meeting fostered hope for more extensive collaborations and interventions in the ongoing battle against the devastating impact of Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease on rubber cultivation in the CARAGA region.

As stakeholders continue to work hand in hand, it is anticipated that the region will be better equipped to mitigate the effects of the disease and safeguard the livelihoods of rubber farmers in Trento and beyond.

-𝑰𝒗𝒐𝒏𝒚 𝑮. 𝑻𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒂𝒅𝒐