Bumper rice harvest expected despite rat infestation

STA. BARBARA—After rice black bugs that infested rice fields in some towns in previous months, the field rats surfaced to create further damage.

The rat infestation was reported about two weeks ago and the initial estimate of the affected areas was 30 hectares.

But Nestor Batalla, assistant provincial agriculturist and rice program coordinator, said the report was “exaggerated”.

He said his staff repeatedly went to the affected areas here and determined that the infestation did not affect 30 hectares but only one hectare and only the side of dikes in rice fields.

He said affected were only three barangays and the Department of Agriculture, provincial and municipal governments already distributed pesticide for rats.

Pest infestation is normal, he said and allayed fears that the infestation will affect palay production. “In fact Pangasinan expects the second crop to have a bumper harvest and will likely exceed previous target.

He said from 75,000 hectares planted to rice, the number rose to 80,000 hectares and harvest time is expected to be finished by March.

Each hectare is expected to yield an average of 4.5 tons of palay, he said because there was no calamity that hit Pangasinan last year.

Meanwhile, the rice black bug infestation in some towns, particularly in eastern Pangasinan has been mitigated and the pests have migrated to other areas.

He said from Villasis town where rice black bugs attacked in previous months, the pests have migrated to Urdaneta City, Malasiqui and Sta. Barbara.

“We expect that this will be contained soon because we cannot wipe them out at once. It takes about two years to control them,” Batalla said. (Eva Visperas)

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