Rice black bug wreaks havoc in Pangasinan farms

VILLASIS, Pangasinan — A tiny insect called Rice Black Bug (RBB) has wrought havoc in many rice farms here, reducing harvest of farmers by some 70 percent and threatening to relegate Pangasinan’s position as one of the top rice producers in the country.

A report by the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) of Villasis stated that some 50 hectares of rice land being tilled by about 100 farmers were already totally destroyed by the bugs in the town.

Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Nestor Batalla admitted the upsurge of the rice black bugs here, Urdaneta and Binalonan as well as some towns in Tarlac.

Fortunately, he said, the pest emerged when most farmers had already harvested their rice crops.

Batalla said the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg) had called a meeting with leaders of farmers’ associations from affected towns so they can devise effective and efficient control measures against the bug.

A report said that because of the bugs, many of the Pangasinan farmers are worried as the pest is difficult to control as the bugs had the capacity to transfer fast from one plant to another and can easily bury themselves in the soil.

Farmers recalled that the pests first attacked their farms sometime in September while their rice plants were already forming their pinnacles.

Batalla said that bugs usually come out in droves during full moon but assured this can be wiped out with the combined efforts of farmers and technicians now going around in the affected lands.

Farmers admitted their harvest dwindled to just 30 cavans per hectare or 70 cavans lower than their usual harvest of 100 cavans per hectare.

The farmers said that the bugs multiply rapidly and cannot just be exterminated through the application of ordinary biological control agents initially recommended by government technicians.

They said the RBB seemed to make the rice plants their main food, first attacking their roots, stems and leaves.

A report said because of these, farmers in this town are now thinking of foregoing with the planting of rice during the third cropping season which starts in December or immediately after this year’s harvest season.

A report said that four barangays (villages) of Villasis were already confirmed to be infested by the bugs. These are Unzad, Labit, Tombod and Barraca, where up to to 50 hectares of rice lands were reported to have already been destroyed.

Batalla said the provincial government could help the affected rice farmers by giving them certified rice seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. PNA-northboundasia.com