Locust infestation in Bukidnon alarms farmers

MALAYBALAY CITY -– Locust has reportedly infested two towns and a city in the province of Bukidnon, this week, sending an alarm among farmers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Wednesday.

Gregorio L. Orboc, a senior researcher at DA, said locusts have been sighted in the sugarcane farms in Valencia, a city in Bukidnon and in the towns of Don Carlos and Maramag, all of Bukidnon.

Locust is a kind of grasshopper that migrates in a congregation of thousands, destroying crops along the way.

Orboc said that six hectares of farmland had already been affected in Bukidnon and the figure could increase if the infestation is not immediately contained.

“We estimated that by December, the locusts will develop into a swarm and will fly spreading devastation not just in Bukidnon but in neighboring places. They are migratory and the pest could be everywhere,” he said.

He said that the DA’s Regional Crop Protection Center has started distributing chemicals to the local government units (LGUs) affected by the onslaught.

However, Orboc said that the DA has no enough supply and suggested that the LGU concerned purchase the commercially available chemicals.

He said that the DA’s Regional Crop Protection Center is also cultivating two fungi – metarhizium and beauveria – to capture the locusts plague.

The two fungi envelop locusts’ bodies and mummify them, rendering them disabled and dead, Orboc said.

He said that the DA would also distribute the fungi to the affected farmers who will deploy the fungi either through broadcasting, spraying or irrigation.

Orboc, however, said that spraying is the most efficient way to distribute the fungi.

He said that the DA is still validating the number of farmers that were directly affected by the infestation.

Orboc said that the locusts would usually group together and wreak damage to farmlands after a dry spell.

The country has just emerged from its worst El Niño in modern history. The last locust infestation that occurred in Northern Mindanao was in 1986. Marc Francisco/PNA-northboundasia.com