CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Residents in the agricultural town of San Luis have found a new source of income amid the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
As some of them are struggling to survive due to the impact of the health crisis, the municipal government has offered a program that serves as saving grace in these trying times.
The program is a PHP1-million bounty to contain rat infestation that affects palay crops in the town.
Mayor Jayson Sagum, in a video post on his social media page last Monday, announced that the municipal government will pay PHP5 for each “rat tail” surrendered to the Municipal Agricultural Office.
“At PHP5 per tail, the PHP1-million bounty is equivalent to 200,000 dead rats. Multiply that to the 25 kilos of palay each rat destroys and then at the usual price of PHP15 per kilo and you will get PHP75 million cost of destruction,” Sagum said.
The program is seen by some residents as a perfect opportunity to earn extra income.
Rolando Ramirez, of Barangay Sto. Tomas, said he and his friends search the fields for rats as early as 6 a.m. to search.
“Maaga palang talagang naghahanap na kami ng daga, sayang din ang kikitain namin para sa pang-araw-araw na gastusin (We are looking for rats early. What we are going to earn is for our daily expenses),” Mesa said in an interview.
He was among the early birds on Friday at a desk set up at the town hall’s ground floor to claim the payment for 418 rat tails, amounting to PHP2,405.
For Merly Bautista of Barangay Sta. Monica, the payment for dead rats that their family caught will be used to buy basic necessities.
“Malaking bagay ito para sa amin. Bukod sa karagdagang kita at nakatutulong pa sa mga magsasaka (This is a big thing for us. Aside from additional income, this could also help the farmers),” said Bautista, who received PHP1,100 for 220 rat tails.
As of Oct. 23, the total number of rat tails surrendered to the Municipal Agriculture Office is 16,516 with a total payment of PHP82,580.
Municipal agriculturist Rolando Fronda said the program is to help the farmers to increase their palay production which is being infested by rats annually.
“Ito mga daga ay nanalanta sa mga bukirin natin. Kaya naisipan ng municipal government na magbigay ng reward sa manghuhuli ng daga. So, makakatulong ito sa mga magsasaka at mga tao, lalo na ngayon pandemic na walang trabaho (These rats are ravaging our fields. That is why the municipal government decided to reward those who could hunt rats. So, this will help farmers and the people, especially now this pandemic, they are unemployed),” Fronda said in a social media account.
San Luis has a total land area of 5,600 hectares. Of this, 4,870 hectares of rice and vegetable crops cultivated by some 2,500 farmers have been infested with rats. Zorayda Tecson /PNA -northboundasia.com