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Maguindanao farmers lose P 5M as rats swarm crops

AGRICULTURE • 18:21 PM Fri Jan 15, 2016
Nash Maulana

MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao — Farmers here and in six other towns have suffered heavy losses caused by rat infestation, the first to hit the province in nearly 10 years and is ostensibly blamed on Climate Change, official said.Regional Agriculture Secretary Alexander Alonto of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said on Tuesday that up to P 5.55 million worth of rice and corn crops were destroyed in this town and in Buldon, Datu Unsay Northern Kabuntalan, Sultan Mastura, Datu Odin Sinsuat, and Mamasapano.ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman has deployed agriculture officials to aid farmers with anti-rat pesticides, Alonto said.Khadiguia Abdullah, information chief at the ARMM Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF-ARMM), said the fest outbreak has damaged some 1,900 hectares of rice fields in at least seven of Maguindanao’s 33 provinces.Abdullah said 2,000 bags of zinc phosphide were distributed to farmers, as they lost up to 50 percent of rice and corn already in harvestable stage.Modrika Masukat, municipal agriculture officer of Mamasapano, said in this town alone, 50-65 percent of rice crops in two villages were destroyed. Corn crops in 14 barangays were also destroyed by the swarms of rats during the last two weeks, Masukat said.Masukat said the total crop damage in Mamasapano has been estimated at 207 tons of rice at varied stages of growth, and 107,520 tons of corn with above 50 percent chances of recovery.Alonto said based on reports of municipal agriculture officers, the pest outbreak could be an early sign of the effects of El Nino Phenomenon on local agriculture.Abdullah said there were minimal reported cases of rat infestation in rice-producing areas, where farmers work on land preparation and plant simultaneously.Masukat said the rat infestation was the first-time to hit province in more than 10 years. He said what hurt the farmers most has been bullying” product buyers, dictating a low-price trend on what they call tira ng daga” or rat-leftovers. Nash B. Maulana

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