“Task Force Kurikong” to stop spread of mango pests in Ilocos Norte

Through the joint efforts of Governor Imee R. Marcos, Ricardo “Carding” Tolentino, and the Provincial Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Office, Ilocano farmers are advised to help address the possible spreading and infestation of cecid flies as the “Task Force Kurikong,” is established today.

Tolentino, hailed as the province’s “Mango King” and twice-recognized by the Department of Agriculture as “Agri-Pinoy Entrepreneur of the Year,” said that during a recent trip to Manila transporting mangoes, he noticed that a shipment coming from a certain Northern Luzon province was showing signs of damage from cecid flies or kurikong.

Soon after, he was informed that someone from the same province had been selling such infected mangoes in Ilocos Norte markets.

“Na-alarma ako, kaya tumawag ako kay Governor Imee kung paano naming ito kokontrolin,” he explained, adding that he himself had been able to contact the seller and instruct them not to bring any infested mangoes into the province.

However, reports have already been received from Batac City, Currimao, Nueva Era, Banna, and Dingras regarding produce showing signs of kurikong damage, hence the immediate creation of the task force.

He initially met with 30 people, mostly town and presidents of the Ilocos Norte Federation of Mango Producers Association Inc. (INFMPAI) and other farmers, to educate them on how to stop the reproduction and spreading of the flies.

“Ti insurok itay a pamay-anda, pidutenda amin a naregreg a bungan ‘ta adda igges na dagidiayen. Daga ngamin ti pagpessaanda… no maurnongda dagidiayen, puoranda━haanda ikalkali ta uray ikalim daydiay ket talaga a rumuar danto latta,” he explained.

As an additional precautionary measure, the task force will be meeting with additional members next week for training in fruit bagging, which is another strategy in preventing cecid fly infestation.

Tolentino elaborated the severity of the problem: “No inatakeda ti maysa a plantasion ket kayada a tudoken amin a bungana.”

“Nalugi ang mga farmer noong ‘Lawin,’ Tolentino said, referring to the super typhoon that struck Northern Luzon in October 2016, “Ang problema pa kasi namin, hindi lang ‘yong mga bumagsak na puno. Pati na rin ‘yong leaf flushing pagkatapos ng bagyo.”

He estimated that 40% of the province’s mango trees underwent flushing, leaving only 60% to continue with regular fruitage in the meantime.

“Nakakalungkot na marami ang nasira sa agrikultura, pero alam kong makakabangon tayo sa pamamagitan ng pagkakaisa,” Governor Marcos had assured her constituents during her 2016 State of the Province (SOPA), a week after “Lawin” had left the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

“Resiliency is also defined by early recovery,” she had urged, distributing plant seeds, 40-day-old chicks, livestock, sacks of calcium nitrate, and other forms of assistance shortly after delivering her SOPA.

Despite Tolentino’s prediction of an inevitable 30% decrease in production compared to last year, “maganda pa rinangpresyo,” he reassured, “nakakapagbenta pa kami ng Php35 to Php50 per kilo ng green mango sa Manila.”

The province was able to produce around 20 million kilograms of mangoes in 2016.—(Mizpah Grace G. Castro, PGIN-CMO)