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Luzon-wide Conference on new Rice Grain Bug held in Ragay PDF Print E-mail

Liboro, Ragay, Camarines Sur-   Heads of the regional crop protection  centers  of the  Department of Agriculture   in  Luzon  and  experts on plant  pests  and disease from the Bureau of Plant Industry converged in this   municipality for a 3-day  technical awareness conference   on Rice Grain Bug.  This new rice pest  which  has infested rice crops  in 4 regions namely:  Central Visayas  (region 7),  Eastern Visayas (Region 8), CARAGA (Region 13)   and  the Bicol (region5)  in particular this town of  Ragay and  Dimasalang  in Masbate. 

The pest  according to Dr. Evangeline de la Trinidad, chief of the Regional Crop Protection Center   was first detected   in  Bicol  in July 2011 in Dimasalang. Masbate  and in  September of the same year in 3 barangays in  Ragay, Camarines Sur.  Based on the field  observation and monitoring done by de la Trinidad and her team, the pest  infested  rice panicles  from flowering stage to milking stage  , resulting to unfilled  and discoloured grains and eventually  reducing yield by as much as 60%.

ricebugs.jpgAccording to the observation  shared by the  agricultural technicians and farmers  of Ragay  this pest  is  a complex specie.  It is active at noon time unlike  most pests which are  active in early morning or at night time.  It can swim in water, has wings but are not strong flyers and can move fast or hide  underneath the   leaves.   They  also noted that this pest can resist  insecticide treatments and inflicts more damage than the rice black bug. They  also reported that infected  palay have discolored,  unfilled or cracked grains  and  have bitter taste when cooked.

These observations were  validated  by the participants  to the conference which included   plant pathologists, entomologists,  agronomists and crop science experts who  made actual observations  of the  characteristics and behaviour of the pests  right in the ricefields  during the 3-day  duration of the conference.

De la Trinidad admits that little is yet  known about this pests  in particular its  life cycle,  habits, alternate host and characteristics  which could be the basis for  developing a protocol for the control of this pest.

Dr. Jesus  S. Binamira, national director of the Integrated Pest Management (KASAKALIKASAN), the umbrella program of DA’s crop protection  program  personally attended   the conference  and  reminded the participants that    pest control must be community-based and   that people should be made to realize  the importance of crop protection in the  over-all food chain.  He underscored the importance of  surveillance  and the continuous conduct of trainings  and advocacy.

According to  DA regional executive  director Jose V. Dayao  this pest although confined  yet to a limited area in Camarines Sur and Albay  poses a new threat  and   therefore  it is important that  those  in the know should work together and share knowledge and experiences on how to deal and with and control this pest.  He underscores the importance of  synchronous planting  so that the lifecycle of this pest would not be completed.  (Emily B. Bordado)