In a collaborative effort to address the increasing cases of Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease, the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rubber Research Institute (DA-PRRI), headed by Executive Director Cheryl Lazaga Eusala quickly responded to the letter sent by DA-RCPC 13 informing of a suspected Pesta sighting in their region by sending by Dr. Jill Villanueva, Project Leader of AI Rubber Clinic, a DOST-PCAARRD-funded project and two other PRRI technical staff to conduct site validation last April 18-19, 2023.

This call to action is also supported by the Department of Agriculture – Regional Crop Protection Center 13 (DA-RCPC 13) headed by Center Chief Reynaldo Udarbe, in partnership with the representatives from the Regulatory Office, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), National Seed Quality Control Services (NSQC), Agricultural Patent Cooperation Office (APCO), and the DA-Research Division, and agricultural technicians of the municipalities of Sta. Josefa and Trento, Agusan Del Sur.

On the first day of the surveillance and monitoring operation, the PRRI team extended their courtesy to the Department of Agriculture – Regional Crop Protection Center 13 (DA-RCPC 13) office located at the compound of Municipality of Trento in Agusan Del Sur. After the courtesy visit, the team proceeded to Barangay Awaw in Sta. Josefa, Agusan Del Sur to monitor the reported cases of Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease in the locality.
Upon inspection, the team discovered that the rubber trees in the area were indeed infected with the disease. The diagnosis was based on the symptoms, culture, and morphological structure of the pathogen. The results confirmed the positive presence of Pestalotiopsis Disease in the area, affecting around 100-150 trees.

On the second day of the surveillance and monitoring operation, the PRRI Team proceeded to Barangay New Visayas, Trento, Agusan Del Sur. During the inspection, they found out that more or less six hectares of rubber trees showed symptoms and were confirmed to be infected with Pesta.

The team estimated that the percentage of the disease infection was around 70-80%, which indicates a significant impact on the rubber plantations in the area. Furthermore, the disease severity rating was assessed to be around 40-50%, highlighting the urgent need for management interventions to prevent further spread and damage to the crops.

In addition, the PRRI team proceeded to the meet with Agusan Del Sur, Provincial Agriculturist, Mr. Armando G. Valiente to discuss the incidence of Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease in Barangay Awaw and Barangay New Visayas, Agusan Del Sur.This initial talk calls for proactive actions and employ much-needed measures for the provincial government to prevent the further spread of the disease in the region. As a response, the OPAg has scheduled a meeting on April 24, 2023, to gather all Municipal Agriculture Officers (MAO) for an orientation meeting on Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease. The meeting aims to discuss the current situation of the disease in the region and raise awareness among the local farmers on how to manage and control the spread of the disease effectively.

The DA-RCPC 13 and OPAg expressed their gratitude towards the active efforts of PRRI in responding promptly to the call and sending a team to validate and collaborate with different agencies in addressing the issue of Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease in the region.

Hopefully, PRRI’s proactive response and collaboration with other agencies and organizations have significantly contributed to the development of effective management interventions and strategies to prevent the spread of the disease in the affected areas.

The surveillance and monitoring operation aimed to identify and monitor infected areas, assess the extent of damage caused by the disease, and provide appropriate management recommendations to affected farmers. The team used various tools and techniques such as visual inspection, sample collections, etc., to accurately and efficiently determine the presence and severity of the disease.

According to the team’s preliminary findings, the disease has affected several rubber plantations in the region, causing significant losses to farmers and threatening the sustainability of the local rubber industry. However, the surveillance and monitoring operation provided crucial data and insights that would guide the development of effective management strategies and interventions.

At the end of the day, the participating agencies and organizations expressed their strong commitment to continue working together with DA-PRRI to address the challenges posed by the Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease in the region.

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