in Fighting a Sweetpotato Disease
in the Philippines
Central Luzon region is one of the top ten producers of sweetpotato in the Philippines with an estimated production area of 10,000 hectares. According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), sweetpotato farming in the region feeds not less than 5,000 farming households, most of which are in the provinces of Tarlac and Bataan.
The reported average yield of sweetpotato in the region is 3.6 tons. This is considered very low compared to the yield of other countries. From earlier diagnostic surveys, low yields are attributed to scarcity of good quality planting materials, poor soil fertility, high incidence of pests and diseases, lack of technical support, flooding, drought and other environmental factors.
A sweetpotato disease called camote kulot was first observed in Tarlac in 1991. Through the years, it has gradually spread to other areas affecting sweetpotato plantations in most of the municipalities of Central Luzon. The disease has caused yield losses of more than 50%. Infection is due to the use of contaminated planting materials.
In Bataan, farmers stopped planting sweetpotato for one year. Most of the varieties grown in the region are susceptible to camote kulot and this has caused the loss of “Bureau”, a popular variety with good agronomic characteristics.
Before the 1990s, farmers from
Tarlac and Bataan purchased
planting materials from each
other. But since the outbreak of
the disease, Tarlac farmers had
to depend on nearby Bataan
for their requirements and this
continuous exchange of
planting materials aggravated
the spread of the disease.