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Caraga Battles Fungal Disease Threatening Rubber Farms

CARAGA - The Department of Agriculture in the Caraga Region (DA-13) is addressing the outbreak of Pestalotiopsis, a fungal disease causing leaf fall in rubber plantations, particularly in Agusan del Sur. According to DA-13, the disease has already infected 1,765 hectares of rubber farms, impacting 1,120 farmers since its detection on February 7. The spread of the disease poses a significant threat to the region's rubber farming sector, which is crucial to its agricultural economy.

Rebecca Atega, DA-13 technical director for operations, emphasized the critical role of local government units in combating the outbreak. "The LGUs play a very important role in containing the disease, especially in terms of coming up with policies or ordinances," she stated. Efforts to contain the disease include technical briefings for farmer leaders and the implementation of control measures across affected areas. The disease, first detected in April last year, has shown a rapid spread compared to its initial presence in only eight hectares. Rubber farming is an essential part of Caraga's agriculture, with the region ranking fourth nationally in terms of rubber tree plantation area and production.