The Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas is on guard against the rice grain bug (RGB) infestation sighted in 548 hectares of rice areas in Antique that resulted in the decline in palay production yield and quality.
Formerly tagged as the “new pest of rice”, the first RGB incidents in the region were recorded in Sipalay and adjacent towns in Negros Occidental back in 2017, while similar pest infestation also occurred in the 10 hectares of rice fields in Janiuay, Iloilo late last year.
“The rice grain bug as a grain feeding pest causes more serious damage to rice than the rice bug or tiangaw. It is a small but very fast-moving insect. It attacks during the flowering up to the milking stage of the rice plant,” DA 6 Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) chief, Ryan Rasgo, said.
Based on the pest monitoring report submitted by the Municipal Agriculture Office of Barbaza, the infestation already reached the outbreak level. Municipal agriculturist Juan Marquez Jr. said that rice growers in barangays Beri, Binangbang Centro, Binanu-an, Cadiao, Capoyuan, Esparar, Gua, Igpalge, Ipil, Jinalinan, Mablad, Magtulis, Mayos, and Palma experienced up to 90 percent of crop losses due to rice grain bug infestation, a press release from the DA said.
The significant crop damage prompted the MAO to seek technical assistance and intervention from the DA to mitigate its spread that might lead to rice supply instability if the infestation persists.
“We recommend the use of biological control agents and the practice of integrated pest management. However, we are urging rice farmers to observe fallow period and synchronous planting to break the pest cycle,” Rasgo said.
Flooding the newly-harvested rice field is another useful method to eliminate, or at least minimize the RGB population, he added.
Marquez said that if not aggressive move is taken on this concern, the pest incident might progress towards the end of the third cropping. “We need to stop the rice grain bug especially that the DA’s 100-hectare community rice model farm will be established within the infested barangays in June,” he added.
To alert farmers on the measures to undertake to eradicate the crop pest as soon as possible, the DA and MAO Barbaza will embark on an intensive information drive on RGB among farmers. Rasgo and regional information officer James Earl Ogatis, who validated the infested areas on Feb. 23, have turned over biological control agents, such as metarhizium and beauveria fungi, and fungicides to Mayor Gerry Necor and Marquez.
Agricultural extension workers in the region are also advised to hold constant monitoring activities to ensure early detection and appropriate management of crop pests, the press release said.
Rasgo also stressed that the use of synthetic chemicals to destroy the RGB hosts should be treated as the last resort, the press release added.*