Execs losing battle vs rat attacks | Inquirer News
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Execs losing battle vs rat attacks

/ 11:23 PM January 17, 2016

COTABATO CITY—Rats are skipping poison-laden baits in South Cotabato, setting back government efforts to control vermin infestation in rice and corn fields in the province, according to an agriculture official.

“Some rats simply see, smell and then ignore the zinc phosphide-coated baits the farmers placed in rice and corn fields,” said Justina Navarrete, acting provincial agriculturist. “They appeared to have learned their lessons in the past.”

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Mindanao resumed the distribution of zinc phosphide, a type of rodenticide, to farmers who have complained of the rat attacks. It supplied more than 400 kilograms of the chemical last year in the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani, and the cities of Cotabato, Kidapawan, Koronadal, Tacurong and General Santos.

Asked about the extent of crop losses, Navarrete said her office was still assessing the damage brought about by the rat attacks, which was being largely blamed on the El Niño weather phenomenon. The dry spell, which was expected to intensify by next month, had wilted many plants that rodents normally consume.

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“Massive infestation could be attributed to climate change and the onset of El Niño,” provincial agriculturist Eliseo Mangliwan said.

Navarrete found it peculiar that the rodents were no longer taking the bait.

The DA has urged farmers to participate in its campaign to hunt rats and destroy their dwelling places. It offers a kilo of rice for every 10 pieces of rat tails presented to entice more people to join.

In North Cotabato, rodents devastated P13 million worth of corn and rice crops in Kabacan, prompting the municipal council to place nine villages under a state of calamity. The declaration will allow the local government to extend financial and material aid to the affected farmers.

More than 470 families have declared failure in cropping since December due to rodent attacks in at least 600 hectares of rice and corn fields, said David Don Saure of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Enriqueto Natividad, technical director for research and regulations at the DA regional office, said a comprehensive research was going on to understand the behavior of rats in the rice fields and how to contain them in the face of climate change.

In Maguindanao, the extreme weather condition also forced rats out of their holes in search of food and attack hundreds of hectares of rice and corn fields.

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The outbreak has so far damaged some 1,900 hectares of rice fields in all of the province’s 33 towns, said Khadigia Abdullah, information chief at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Modrika Masukat, municipal agriculture officer of Mamasapano, said at least 107,520 tons of corn in 14 barangays had been laid to waste by rodents in the past two weeks alone.

It was the first rat infestation in the province in more than 10 years, Masukat said. With a report from Nash Maulana, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Agriculture, corn field, Mindanao, Outbreak, rice, Rice Field, South Cotabato, vermin, vermin infestation
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