Rats attack Isabela farms, but execs say damage small

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CAUAYAN CITY—Field rats have been ravaging palay planted in more than 5,000 hectares of farms in Isabela since last week, but agriculture officials said the damage was only minimal as the affected areas represent only 10 percent of the province’s total rice lands.

“Isabela farmers have been always vigilant because they are not new to the infestation of rats in their rice farms. The good thing is the damage is minimal,” said Danilo Tumamao, provincial agriculturist.

Tumamao said reports indicated that as of Monday, the rats had ravaged 5,826 hectares of farms in the province.

He said the Department of Agriculture (DA) personnel have been visiting Isabela’s three cities and 34 towns to talk to farmers and local officials and ask their help in containing the rat attacks.

Tumamao said farmers in at least 4,500 ha of the total affected farms have been given pest control chemicals to stop the infestation. These chemicals are distributed by the DA’s Regional Crop Protection Center, local governments and the Isabela government.

The worst-hit areas were the towns of Alicia, Ramon and Burgos and Cauayan City, with rice farms in 89 villages there attacked by rats.

Other rice-farming areas affected were the cities of Santiago and Ilagan and the towns of Luna and Roxas.

Tumamao said local officials have also encouraged farmers to hunt the rats to stop the infestation.

Last year, officials of Cauayan and Ramon had offered to pay P1 for every rodent tail surrendered by farmers. Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon

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