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After drought, farmers told to prepare for locusts

/ 01:15 AM October 02, 2016

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Farmers in Northern Mindanao have barely started to recover from the devastating effects of the long dry spell in the province that had brought losses of over P2 billion when another disaster loomed in the horizon—locusts.

In a report, the Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) of the Department of Agriculture in Northern Mindanao said swarms of locusts have been monitored in Valencia City and the towns of Don Carlos and Maramag.

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And because the insects are highly migratory, they could easily fly to nearby areas in the region, officials said.

The locusts, which feast on leaves of crops, could prove to be more destructive than the drought that destroyed more than 30,000 hectares of farms in the province, the agency said.

RCPC head Virgie Rendon told reporters that farmers in Don Carlos first noticed the presence of locusts in their farms about three weeks ago.

Grace Sta. Elena, information chief of the regional agriculture and fisheries office, said aside from corn, the insects have also attacked sugarcane and rice fields.

Gregorio Orboc, RCPC senior research associate, said the infestation has so far affected six hectares of farmland but the locusts could easily attack larger areas if not contained.

Orboc said locusts will have less damaging effects on sugar cane plantations but would be devastating for corn and upland rice fields.

He said unless contained, experts project that by December, swarms of locusts would grow bigger and could also threaten farms in other areas as the insects are migratory.

The RCPC said pesticides had already been distributed to the towns so farmers can use it against the insects.

But due to the shortage of pesticides, Orboc said local government units should augment supply.

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Orboc said if farmers intensify their efforts to fight the locusts through constant spraying, the threat posed by the locusts could be neutralized in a month.

Aside from spraying, he said that there are two types of fungi—metarhizium and beauveria—which can be used against pests. Jigger Jerusalem, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: dry spell, El Niño, northern mindanano, onal Crop Protection Center, RCPC, Regions
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