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Plant citronella to drive away dengue

ANTI-DENGUE PLANT. Residents of Canaman, Camarines Sur are briefed on the benefits derived from planting citronella before they were given the plant’s tillers ready for planting, aside from pili and cacao seedlings as beneficiaries of Tabang Bikol. LOVELLA GUARIN

CANAMAN, Camarines Sur --- To help avert the rise of dengue cases in Camarines Sur, particularly in this municipality that as of date has reported over 80 cases, the Department of Agriculture, in tandem with the Tabang Bikol Movement, has initiated the planting of citronella in the barangays.

DA Bicol led by OIC Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla last August 12 distributed 30,000 tillers of citronella, together with 1,000 pieces of pili seedlings, 500 pieces grafted cacao and 300 packets of vegetable seeds to some 300 beneficiaries of Tabang Bikol. The mass distribution was held at the Mariners Polytechnic Colleges in Baras, Canaman.

Citronella works by masking scents that are attractive to insects, namely carbon dioxide and lactic acid in humans.

Director Tornilla said that aside from its strong smell which drives mosquitos away, citronella can also be a source of income as its extracts are used in processing essential oils.

Pili and cacao are also champion commodities of the Bicol region due to the big demand for confectioneries, pili oil and chocolates here and abroad.

Tornilla underscored the marching order given by newly-appointed DA Secretary William Dar all regional offices to help farmers double their income through crop diversification.

Municipal Mayor Nelson Legaspi of Canaman said that as of July 31, there were 82 reported cases of dengue in his municipality, 60 of which came from the coastal barangay of Mangayawan.

During the mass distribution, Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez discussed the techniques in planting citronella. The plant needs six hours of early morning sunlight. One to two tillers can be planted in the holes at a distance of 0.6 x 1 meter. It can be harvested after 8-9 months.

A MOA was signed between RED Tornilla and Tabang Bikol chairperson Jimenez, along with the recipients of the project namely: Philippine Coast Guard Authority, Magarao People’s Council, Pili Peoples Council, People’s Organization of Disaster Survivors (PODIS) –Ilaw ng Kababaihan sa Canaman, Irayangsolong Agriculture Coop, and the Isarog Garden Society.

Earlier this month, DA Bicol turned over a citronella oil extracting machine to Tabang Bikol through its Chairperson Evita Jimenez-Tuazon.

Citronella is a cogon-grass-like plant that promises various industrial uses. Its oil is highly valued as it is used in perfumes, soaps, spray, disinfectants, paints and polish. At present, the Philippines still imports citronella oil for industrial consumption.

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