The Rice Grain Bug, an emerging rice pest in Negros Occidental, continues to infest more areas as the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist recorded another P2.4 million worth of damage in two local government units in the southern part of the province.
Pontevedra town and Himamaylan City incurred rice crop damage estimated at P2,445,536 due to the RGB infestation in January, records from OPA given to the media yesterday showed.
Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said, apart from these two LGUs, OPA is also waiting for reports from the sixth district, in Candoni and Hinobaan towns, as infestations have also been reported in the areas.
Pontevedra belongs to the fourth district and Himamaylan in the fifth, with both located south of Bacolod City.
This is the first reported RGB infestation this year, Masculino said, as continuous monitoring of local agriculturist is being done to mitigate its effects.
Pontevedra has recorded P2,053,760in damage, covering 59 hectares and affecting 33 farmers. OPA noted that last year, it had the biggest production yield in the province with 7.1 tons per hectare.
Himamaylan has P391,776 worth of damages, covering 9.04 has.and affecting nine farmers.
The RGB looks like a black ant and feeds on rice fruit and damages it by sucking the contents of developing grains in the milking stage, causing moisture loss and discoloration.
The pest has a dirty-brown color and is half the size of the Rice Black Bug, with bigger front legs that allow it to crawl.
The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. recently included them in the insurance coverage for RGB damages this year after the provincial government wrote to its president, Jovy Bernabe, in December.
Masculino said that experts from the Bureau of Plant Industry and the University of the Philippines-Los Baños will come to Negros to study the spread of this pest that was discovered to be infesting rice areas only in August last year.
In the second half of 2017, cases of RGB infestation in south Negros were reported and damage was placed at P8.4 million.
About31 packs of bio-controlling fungi Metarhiziumanisopliae from the Department of Agriculture-Western Visayas Regional Crop Protection Center were distributed to the two LGUs, Masculino said.
He again reminded the farmers to continue their vigilance over their farms and to maintain clean surroundings to avoid infestations.
Synchronous planting of rice was also urged by Masculino to make sure that the damage done by the RGB will be minimized. * MLG
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