STO. DOMINGO, NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines — Five villages in this northern Nueva Ecija municipality were placed under state of calamity after army worms, which were hatched by a certain kind of butterfly inside and quickly ate up the young leaves of onion, totally damaged nearly 450 hectares of crops this season.
Town Mayor Leonido De Guzman, Jr. said the declaration of state of calamity over barangays Dolores, Concepcion, San Francisco, San Agustin and San Fabian, was made by the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) upon the recommendation of the Municipal Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC).
Citing report from the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO), De Guzman said 346.30 hectares of the 474.50 hectares planted to red creole onion in the municipality was totally damaged by the army worms infestation that was monitored last February.
It affected at least 495 farming families who should have harvested, if not with the attack of the army worms,, some 500 bags of 25-kilo pack per hectare (ha).
Based on March 10 market price of PHP29 a kilo, according to the MAO report, the farmers have lost a total of PHP125,533,750 due to infestation.
Worst, the pest continues to affect the remaining plants despite concerted efforts by the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 3 (DA-RFU3), local officials and the farmers to contain it, according to Emelita Flores, municipal agriculturist.
Of the initial damaged areas, the largest was Barangay Dolores at 187.40 ha (253 farmers affected); followed by San Fabian, 46.80 ha (65 farmers); Concepcion, 44.80 ha (76 farmers); San Francisco, 39.40 ha (61 farmers); and San Agustin, 28 ha (40 farmers).
The onions were supposed to be harvested by the end of this month to April.
De Guzman said the MDRRMC recommended the use of calamity fund to help affected farmers recover by giving them hybrid seeds for rice, corn and vegetables.
Aside from this town, also affected by the infestation were the towns of Bongabon(98 ha); Aliaga (6.8 ha); Cuyapo (25 ha);Talavera (34 ha); Quezon (47 ha); Laur (96 ha); and the cities of Palayan (139 ha); and Science City of Muñoz, (10 ha).
Except for Bongabon and this town, the damages were partial, according to provincial agriculturist Serafin Santos.
Santos, however, maintained the damage was only about 10 percent of the 9,000 hectares planted to onion this season thus, allaying fears of importation. PNA/northboundasia.com