LEGAZPI CITY (26 Jan. 2011) – Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Thursday declared a total ban on cutting of coconut trees in Albay after complaints that widespread cutting of coconut trees triggered landslide and flooding in remote low lying and mountain villages in the province.
At a breakfast meeting on Thursday, Alcala, responding to the request of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, gave an order to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in Albay suspending the issuance of permit to cut coconut trees whether the trees are still productive or old and unproductive.
At a press conference here, Alcala said that effective on Monday the order placing Albay under total ban on cutting of trees will be strictly enforced as he directed the PCA to submit periodic report on the implementation of the ban order.
Alcala said the his office acted on the basis of a special request of Gov. Salceda because the cutting of coconut trees aggravates landslide and other situation that invites disaster of severe impact.
As an economist, Salceda predicted the coconut production industry would not do well because of the unabated cutting of coconut tress thus the economy suffers enormously.
”Mas malaki ang impact nito sa economia ng Albay kung magiging nuts o buko ito kaysa maging coconut lumber,” Salceda said.
He also belied reports that one of the reasons why there were rampant cutting of coco trees is because allegedly there were 30 million trees affected by “Cadang-cadang” a disease caused by Coconut Cadang-cadang Viroid (CCCVd) this was reported by the PCA but a separate study reveal that less that 2 million trees were affected by this disease.
Cadang-cadang literally means ‘dying dying’ in Bicol. The disease was originally reported in San Miguel Island in Albay.
PCA data show that 99,975 hectares of land are planted to coconut trees in Albay .
PCA Albay records indicate that close to 300 permits to cut coconut trees were issued covering over 6,000 trees cut last year.
Salvador Alban, acting PCA Senior Agriculturist, said in an interview that a total ban on cutting of coconut trees nationwide was also declared in 2010 when its moratorium was lifted last year.
Alcala visited Albay on Thursday and met with farmers, fisherfolks, local officials, and turned over livelihood checks amounting to P1.23 million for 123 beneficiaries in Albay under the DA Akbay program.
He also gave farm equipment worth P14.7 million which include a hauler truck, hand tractors, power tillers, flatbed dryers, palay shed, multipurpose drying pavement, seed cleaners and shredders. (PNA)