UPLB visited Negros Occidental last 17-18 February 2018 to help address the rice grain bug (Paraeucosmetus pallicornis) infestation in the province. Led by the National Crop Protection Center - Quick Response Team (NCPC-QRT) and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (OVCRE), the UPLB team assessed the extent of the infestation in the towns of Himamaylan, Sipalay and Hinoba-an.
Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension Dr. Rex B. Demafelis, NCPC Director Dr. Gil L. Magsino, and University Researchers Dr. Bonifacio Cayabyab and Mr. Melvin Ebuenga met with provincial officers and farmers from the three towns to gather initial data pertinent to the pest problem. The provincial office reported cases where loss in rice yield reached as high as 70% in some of the infested fields. Around 230 hectares of rice fields from seven towns and municipalities across the province were also reported to be infested by the rice grain bug.
According to Dr. Cayabyab, unsynchronized farming practiced in the affected areas makes the control of the rice grain bug more difficult as it can easily move from one farm to another to thrive.
He explained that there are various ways to control pests. These include control via biological, chemical, and physical means. Biological means make use of other insects that prey on the pest or microorganisms that are naturally harmful to the pest. Physical means involve clearing of weeds where bugs usually lay eggs.
For the current state of the rice grain bug infestation, Dr. Cayabyab advised that chemical means may be the best solution. He emphasized however, that green-labeled pesticides should be used, as they are not as harmful to the user and the environment. He added that botanical pesticides can also be used and are also available in the market.
To provide more information to the communities, Dr. Magsino and Mr. Ebuenga also gave expert advice on pesticide spraying techniques; proper use and application of fertilizers; and identification of common plant diseases. Specimens were also collected for further examination at the NCPC.
Speaking on behalf of UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez Jr., Vice Chancellor Demafelis expressed urgency for UPLB to engage into collaborative work with the local and provincial governments to provide technical advice on agriculture and other related disciplines especially on issues that pose a threat to the nation’s food security. Recently, UPLB has strategically set its eyes on food security as its priority for instruction, research, and public service initiatives.
The NCPC-QRT has been instrumental in helping farmers from different regions in the country solve various pest infestations. Some of the pests addressed by the team include the onion armyworm (Spodoptera exigua), corn planthopper (Peregrinus maidis), coconut scale insect (Aspidiotus rigidus), and lanzones scale insect (Unaspis mabilis Lit and Barbecho). The team will receive this year’s UPLB Outstanding Extension Program.