38,000 rats killed in South Cotabato in one week

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/07 September) — At least 38,000 rats have been killed in South Cotabato as part of the campaign to curb rodent infestation that wrought havoc in corn and palay farms in the area in the last few years, an official said.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato chief agriculturist, said they launched the campaign against the rats last week, which involves a reward system of a kilo of rice for every 10 rat tails that can be presented.

“In Tantangan town, the municipal agriculture office has given around 70 sacks of rice for the 38,000 rat tails that were produced [by the farmers],” he said.

Lake Sebu and T’boli towns have also been identified as rat-infested areas but figures are not immediately available as to the number of rats that were killed there.

Legaste, however, said they have reserved 500 bags of rice in the continuing campaign to reduce rodent population in the area.

It is up to the local government units to map out the strategy to lick the rat population in their jurisdictions, he said.

He explained that they launched the campaign against rats to mitigate their further impact on the agriculture sector, noting that September is a breeding season for rats, thus a best time to round them up.

The economic impact could be devastating for farmers if we do nothing to reduce the rat population, he said, stressing that a pair could produce 512 offspring in a year.

Last month, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) reported that rats destroyed nearly P37 million worth of corn and palay products from January to July this year.

The OPAG record also showed that the rat devastation has significantly jumped in 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 on corn crops in the province already reached P13.995 million and P22.949 million for palay.

The OPAG has declared September as rodent control month for the province.

Legaste said the program has gained the support of 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 rodents. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)