Rat attack sa North Cotabato, sumira ng P12-M pananim

MORE than P12 million worth of agricultural crops have been destroyed by rats in 13 of 24 villages in North Cotabato’s rice producing town, agriculture officials said Tuesday.

Kabacan, a bustling town in North Cotabato, has been the provincial rice granary and is exporting rice supplies to other regions in Mindanao and Metro Manila.

Teresita Nidoy, Kabacan agricultural technologist, said ready to harvest palay in several villages of Kabacan have been destroyed by rats since the cropping season started in November last year.

‚ÄúThousands of rice crops in these areas were devastated by rats and other insects,” Nidoy said, estimating the affected rice fields at 1,357.80 hectares.

The affected villages are Bangilan, Cuyapon, Dagupan, Katidtuan, Kilagasan, Lower Paatan, Magatos, Malamote, Malanduage, Osias, Salapungan, and Upper Paatan.

“These villages are major rice producing barangays of Kabacan,” Nidoy said.

The town hosts the government rice and research center and is home to Mindanao’s premier state university – the University of Southern Mindanao.

Nidoy revealed that it was the first time Kabacan farmers experienced rat infestation of this magnitude.

She said initial study showed that the rat infestation became rampant and devastating when farmers shifted to a different variety of seeds – RC 158, a high yielding rice variety recommended by the Philippine Rice or PhilRice.

Nidoy theorized that the new variety of rice has soft and sweet stalks and it might have invited rat and fungus to attack the plants, especially during the vegetative stages.

The agriculture expert also said unfavorable weather conditions, experienced in almost all towns in North Cotabato since December last year, could have also triggered the infestation.

She said it was easy to determine whether there is infestation in the rice fields.

“The yellowish coloring of the stem and leaves of the rice was an indication rat and rice blast fungus were attacking the plants,” Nidoy explained.

What worries Nidoy was the possibility of rat infestation on corn and oil palm plantations in northern part of Kabacan.

She said there were reports of rat infestation in other towns that produce corn and oil palm. “We are still validating the report,” she said.

Nidoy said she has recommended to Mayor George Tan a municipality-initiated massive information campaign to control the infestation and save the agricultural crops. PNA

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