Rats hit rice farms in NegOcc; losses pegged at P8.4M

BACOLOD CITY — Rat infestation in some 703 hectares of rice farms in four localities in Negros Occidental has brought about PHP8.4 million in production losses from July to August, figures from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) showed.

Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said that as of Tuesday, they have monitored crop damage in four barangays of San Enrique, 11 barangays of Valladolid, and three barangays of Bago City, all in southern Negros.

In the north, four barangays of Cadiz City were also affected, he said.

A total of 507 farmers, with combined areas of 703.66 hectares of rice fields, were also affected by rat the infestation.

Bago City, known as the rice bowl of Negros Occidental for its vast rice fields, reported the highest losses at PHP6.06 million. Affected were 344 farmers with a total area of 467.24 hectares.

In Valladolid, 89 farmers with 113 hectares of rice farms posted about PHP1.6 million in losses while in San Enrique, 61 farmers with 112.45 hectares lost crops worth PHP473,514.

A total of 13 farmers with 10.97 hectares in Cadiz City incurred PHP226,830 in losses.

Masculino said they have instructed the affected local government units, through their respective City and Municipal Agriculture Offices, to strengthen the crop protection teams and activate the “Bantay Peste” Brigades to lessen the possible adverse effects of rat and other pest infestations.

The OPA has informed Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. that it has initially released 25 kilograms of rodenticide to affected areas in Valladolid and Bago City, he added.

Masculino said the OPA also recommended to the affected LGUs the conduct of massive information drive about rodent and rat management.

Affected farmers enrolled in the Negros First Universal Crop Insurance Program, in partnership with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., may avail of the PHP17,000 claims per hectare of damaged farms.

Farms covered are those planted for not less than 15 to 20 days. Erwin Nicavera/PNA-northboundasia.com