Gov’t aids Cagayan farmers affected by palay pest infestation

PALAY PESTS. The brown plant hoppers monitored in one of the farms in Cagayan Valley. A Department of Agriculture official in Region 2 on Monday (March 15, 2021) says the pests have ravaged 233 hectares of palay farms in the region. (Photo courtesy of DA-Region 2)

The Department of Agriculture in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) (DA-2) has been holding orientation and field demonstrations to help farmers control the infestation of brown plant hoppers which has been ravaging their crops for several weeks now.

Mindaflor Aquino, senior science specialist of the Regional Crop Protection Management Center (RCPMC), told the Philippine News Agency on Monday that the plant hopper palay disease has left PHP2.9-million worth of damage to 233 hectares of farms in one city and six towns in the region.

RCPMC is under the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit 2.

Aquino said they have started teaching farmers on the application of metarhizium, a bio-control agent, to brown plant hopper-affected palay farms in the region.

“We noted a hike of cases in the past weeks so we have been monitoring the affected areas. We advise farmers to immediately report infestation to control the situation,” she said.

Aquino said the infested palay farms were recorded as follows: 178 hectares in Gamu, Burgos and Cauayan City, all in Isabela; 20 hectares in Villaverde, Kayapa and and Bagabag, all in Nueva Vizcaya; and 35 hectares in Baggao town in Cagayan.

Noting that the brown plant hoppers can lay 200 eggs in just one cycle, she said these bugs can destroy 50-100 percent of the palay crops if left unchecked.

“The situation of a changing season of rainy and sunny days has been favorable to the brown plant hoppers. Because of this, we noted the infestation for the first time after five years,” Aquino said.

Rice straws can spread the brown plant hoppers, which conceal themselves on stalks, so she advised an immediate plowing of farms after harvests to kill and cover the pests underneath the earth. (Villamor Visaya, Jr., PNA)