ARMYWORMS STILL ON THE RAMPAGE
LINGAYEN— The helpless onion farmers who lost much of their stocks may yet get some relief after all.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg) said it is preparing a rehabilitation plan to rescue the beleaguered onion industry in Pangasinan badly affected by widespread armyworm infestation.
Provincial Agriculturist Officer-in-Charge Dalisay Moya said the rehab plan will recommend to the governor what kind of assistance can be given the farmers, whose onion crops were infested by armyworms, referred to by local farmers as “harabas”.
The town of Bautista already declared a state of calamity as 91 percent of its 300-hectare onion farms were already destroyed by the pest.
The pest has begun rampaging through the adjacent towns of Bayambang, Alcala, as well as Malasiqui, which may also declare a state of calamity after Bautista.
Moya said a meeting with the municipal agriculture officers of the affected towns has been set to determine the kind of assistance would be of more help to the affected farmers.
Moya also had written the Department of Agriculture for assistance in addition to those that will be provided by the province.
Offhand, OPAg recommends the use of the systemic pesticide for the affected farms if the onions are still at their early stage of development. She clarified, however, that this will no longer work if the onions are in their later stages.
At the same time, she advised farmers to undertake preemptive harvesting in order to save whatever is left of their onion plants.
To prevent the pest from recurring, she recommended the judicious use of fertilizers as the bulb rot (armyworms) will be enhanced by the excessive application of nitrogen fertilizer in the soil.
Moya also recommended that those areas affected by armyworms be planted to other crops like corn because crop rotation could help break the cycle of the pest.
“Huwag munang onion kasi, nandoon pa yong bacteria“, she said, adding that the bacteria would die if there is no more host (onion) to feed on.
Corn, she said, can best take the place of onion because the farm requires a lot of water and will result in the drowning of the bacteria.
Next year, if farmers will plant onion again, expect the armyworms to attack again, she warned. (Leonardo Micua)
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