The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist is intensifying its surveillance and campaign against crop pests and diseases after the presence of army worms infesting 11.3 hectares of rice fields in Barangay Caningay, Candoni, Negros Occidental, was reported last weekend.
Although the army worms reoccurrence in Caningay was only a minor infestation, OPA is alerting all crop protection personnel in local government units and local farmer technicians to conduct massive surveillance although the harvest season is approaching, Armando Abaño, senior agriculturist and provincial crop protection coordinator, said yesterday.
He said nine farmers were affected by the pests, luckily, only 30 percent of the total rice fields was affected as the crops were already at the ripening stage and some farmers have started harvesting.
OPA recommended plowing the fields after the harvest to exterminate the remaining larvae and break the cycle of infestation, he said.
Abaño said the reoccurrence of army worms is still an ill-effect of the El Niño phenomenon that ended last May, and the intermittent rainfall that favors to the growth of the pests.
OPA is also monitoring, together with LGUs other possible infestations of locusts and rats, and crop diseases caused by climatic changes, he said.
He said that from September until harvest time, they will lead the massive surveillance and pest management, particularly in areas with historical occurrence of army worms which are San Carlos, Kabankalan, Escalante and La Castellana and other pests and diseases.
Last July, 32 hectares of corn farms in San Carlos City were infested with army worms, causing production losses estimated at P254,240.
Along with the province-wide monitoring will be a thorough information drive by the local crop protection team in partnership with OPA, he said.
He said they are also monitoring for possible diseases of rice using preventive strategies that involve cultural management, such as sanitation, and appropriate soil and nutrient management.
We need the farmers to know the programs of the provincial government so we can employ a proactive, preventive and collaborative effort to address possible crop infestations, Abaño added.*KBC
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