Technical experts from the DA-RFO 10 have recently convened in a meeting to tackle the agency’s proposed strategies for implementation to manage and control Witch’s Broom in NorMin.

Cagayan de Oro City – To curb the prevalence of Cassava Phytoplasma Disease (Witch’s Broom) in Northern Mindanao, the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office 10 (DA-RFO 10) laid down its strategic plan of action for the management and control of such disease, in a recent meeting, held in this city.

Since cassava is an important crop in the region, producing a quarter (601,000 metric tons) of the country’s total production and valued at P1.48 billion, Larry E. Paraluman, Regional Corn Program Coordinator of DA-RFO 10 explained that it is an imperative to put in place a management system, considering the threat of Witch’s Broom that will eventually affect the regional production of cassava.

To address the situation, he added that the agency is slated to have an advocacy campaign, the conduct of a series of stakeholders’ forum, capacity building initiatives, the creation of a task force, and pre-treatment and control activities.


Witch’s broom is a disease in woody plants, including cassava, where the plant’s natural structure has been altered. Here, a mass of shoots grows from a single point which pushes the plant to resemble a broom. (photo credits: IFAD Asia site)

In the meantime, Paraluman reported that the department is still waiting for the approval of funding from the DA-Central Office to mobilize the above said undertakings, especially for the procurement of logistics for pre-treatment and control activities.

The first four listed strategies, however, he noted will be pushed through using the existing funds of the agency.

Tentatively, the DA-RFO 10 has targeted to conduct its stakeholders’ forum in all of the provinces and its capacity building initiatives (to be participated by three representatives from each local government unit and quarantine officers) in the months of June and July, respectively.

On the other hand, the agency has scheduled its task force to start identifying areas if there are infested with Witch’s Broom this week and to complete processing their findings early June.

Paraluman likewise urged the quarantine officers to vigilantly monitor the entry and exit of cassava planting materials. Should there be groups or individuals interested to carry such, he added, shall secure clearance from the department that the cassava planting materials are clean or pre-treated.

Witch’s Broom is one of the most systemic diseases of cassava. It is caused by a specialized bacteria known as Phytoplasma that significantly reduces root yield and starch content. Infected plants show a wide range of symptoms, including stunted growth, general plant decline, yellowing and purpling of leaves, shortening of internodes, among others. # (DA-RAFIS 10 with reports from Dr. Erlinda Vasquez, PhilRootCrops, Visayas State University)

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