South Cotabato to go after rats next month; crop damage now P36M

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 August) – Agriculture personnel in South Cotabato province will launch next month an intensified campaign against the continuing rodent or rat infestation in the area that already devastated some P36.945 million worth of palay and corn crops.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato provincial agriculture officer, said they have declared the month of September as rodent control month in the entire province to give more focus on their continuing efforts to effectively reduce the pest’s population and the impact of its infestation on farm crops.

“Based on our experience these past years, the month of September was the breeding period of rodents. So this is the best time to round up their breeding areas and neutralize them,” he said in a media forum.

Legaste noted that during the months prior to September, rodent population and movements in most parts of the province are usually on the decline.

But he said the pest would come out again by September and start with their breeding cycle, which happens four times a year.

“A pair of rat alone could breed as many as 512 in one year so just imagine how fast they can multiply and the extent of their potential damage to our crops if we will not be able control them,” the official said.

Records from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) showed that the value of damage caused by rodent infestation to corn and palay has significantly increased during the last three years.

In 2008, OPAG only recorded a total damage of P55,000 due to rat infestation. It jumped to P14.6 million in 2009 and P44.1 million in 2010.

But from January to July this year alone, the value of the damage wrought by rodents to corn crops in the province already reached P13.995 million and P22.949 million for palay.

To highlight the observance of the rodent control month, Legaste said they will launch on September 1 a 10-day massive rat elimination drive in Barangay Dumadalig in Tantangan town, which has recorded the biggest damage from rat infestation in the past several years.

He said a big part of Tantangan town’s palay and corn areas are mainly rainfed, making them highly vulnerable to rat infestation.

Legaste said the problem has compounded due to the presence of nearby oil palm plantations, which were used by the rodent pests as breeding areas.

“We will rally our farmers there to round up all the rat breeding areas and eliminate the rats within a 10-day period. After that, we will provide them with the necessary chemicals to neutralize the remaining rats,” he said.

Legaste said the program is being supported by the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Regional Crop Protection Center and the DA-12 regional office, which committed to provide the needed chemicals and other pesticides for the control and elimination of the rodent pests. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)