Central Luzon provinces warned vs rat, insect infestations
MABALACAT CITY, Pampanga —The provinces of Central Luzon must brace for possible rat and insect infestations of their agricultural lands in the first quarter of the year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) warned on Wednesday, Feb. 8.
In an advisory, the DA’s Central Luzon Office said “dagang bukid” (field rats) might attack crops in the region mainly due to a lack of predators of rodents and asynchronous farming, or growing of various crops in one area at a time, which is a favorable condition for breeding rats.
Citing historical data, the DA-3 said field rats would possibly affect farmlands in the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Tarlac.
Rats are among the most destructive agricultural pests in the country, according to the DA.
At the height of COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, the municipal government of San Luis in Pampanga had to allot a P1 million fund for its “rat tail-for-money” program.
To contain the rat infestation that gravely affected rice farmlands, the government paid residents P5 for every tail of field rat they turned over to the municipal hall.
San Luis Mayor Jayson Sagum said each rat could destroy 25 kilos of palay (unhusked rice).
He said at P5 per rat, the local government could take out 200,000 rats with the P1 million bounty and with the cooperation of the townsfolk. He said at least P75 million worth of palay could be saved with the program.
The DA-3 encourages rat hunting as an effective measure to curb infestations of plague-carrying rodents.
It also warned farmers against infestations of the rice black bug, brown planthopper, rice stemborer, and bacterial leaf blight.
The pest infestations could reduce the rice harvests by 15 to 23 percent once the insects’ population hits a ratio of 10 bugs for each hill of rice plants, according to the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
In other farming areas in the country, agricultural technicians have been using light traps or intense heat from light bulbs to control the infestations and prevent damage to crops.