Fungus downs Basilan rubber industry

ISABELA CITY, Basilan Province — The provincial government on Tuesday has declared the entire province under a “state of calamity” after at least 1,500 hectares of fully-planted rubber trees were infected with Pestalotiopsis — a genus of ascomycete fungi that kills rubber trees.

Basilan Governor Jim Saliman revealed that about 16,000 rubber farmers in the province are now affected by the scourge of Patalotiopsis, which has also reduced their monthly income.

Rubber farmers here stressed that if the situation does not improve and if the government fails to adopt remedial measures to eliminate the fungus attack to rubber trees, “the rubber industry of the province might collapse” very soon.

Saliman said the fungus started to attack the rubber trees in the industry in 2021 and it became severe last year.

It was reported that trading of rubber latex in the province has tremendously declined since the attack of the fungus on their rubber trees.

Local analysts in the province said that it can also cause a rise in the poverty rate of the province in the coming months.

The farmers in the province are now seeking help from the government, to help them find solutions to the province’s besetting industry.

Saliman said about 1,520 hectares of rubber plantation in the entire province are now affected by Patalotiopsis commonly known to most farmers as “leaf fall disease.”

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