GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 March) — Agriculture personnel in South Cotabato province have stepped up efforts to contain the emergence in the area in the last several weeks of the destructive green rice bug pest.
Francisco Domingo, South Cotabato provincial agriculturist, said Friday his office has dispatched a team of agricultural technicians to parts of Sto. Nino town to implement measures to control the spread of the rare rice pest.
He said they are specifically equipping local farmer-technicians and educating rice farmers in the area regarding the disease and ways to effectively contain them.
The Department of Agriculture in Region 12 is also assisting the initiative through the provision of pamphlets and other related materials about the pest.
“As of now, the pest is still at the occurrence level and has not yet reached the infestation stage. But we’re not taking this lightly as the potential impact could be very devastating if the pest is not contained immediately,” he said.
Domingo said they are still determining the possible origin of the pest, which was monitored for the first time in the area.
He said the pest was last reported to have emerged several years ago in palay or rice areas in parts of nearby Sarangani Province.
But he said major infestations of the pest, which is considered more damaging than the common rice black bug, had been reported in the Visayas region.
He specifically cited rice farms in the provinces of Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Antique and the Negros provinces.
Citing the experiences of farmers in green rice bug infested areas, the pest would damage rice plants by sucking dry its leaves and stalks.
“The infested rice plants eventually turn black or in dark color and eventually die,” he said.
Domingo said their initial assessment showed that the pest could have reached the area by wind or flying from the infested areas and through vessels regularly plying the Visayas and Southwestern Mindanao route.
“They’re usually attracted to bright lights like those in big cargo and passenger vessels,” he said.
He urged local farmers who would monitor the possible presence of the pest in their farms to immediately report them to the LFTs and their technicians.
“It’s important for us to immediately monitor their presence or occurrence so we could immediately set proper eradication measures and prevent them from further spreading to other areas,” he added. (MindaNews)