Rice technical workers train to fight fall armyworm infestation

Philippine News AgencyJune 29, 2021

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) has tapped the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) in conducting intensive training among rice technical workers to prepare them for a possible fall armyworm (FAW) infestation.

Genaro Rillon, DA-PhilRice’s crop protection expert, said on Tuesday that tools developed by CABI through pest experts from Malaysia, India, the United Kingdom, and Africa are being introduced via online sessions to rice research and development workers.

He said lessons on identifying and managing FAW were presented to 49 researchers and extension workers from DA-PhilRice, Bureau of Plant and Industry, Regional Crop Protection and Management Center (RCPMC) in Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, and local government units of Pampanga, Tarlac, and Pangasinan.

Rillon said the training is very timely and relevant as the DA’s existing management protocol on FAW only applies to corn.

A protocol is required for rice because its cultivation is different from corn, he explained in a statement.

Evelyn Valdez, FAW project team lead of DA-PhilRice, cited the need for early preparedness as any pest invasion on rice is a threat to food security.

In the past cropping season, FAW was observed affecting not only corn but also rice crops in Cagayan and other parts of Region 2.

Minda Flor Aquino, DA-RCPMC chief, reported on May 20 that affected rice crops were mostly at the seedling stage.

In a series of technical briefings conducted in affected and adjacent rice fields, DA-Cagayan Valley advised farmers to observe early symptoms of FAW infestation, such as cut/damaged leaf margins and sightings of larvae in the area.

In working with pest experts from CABI, Rillion said DA-PhilRice aims to craft strategies in developing and disseminating pest management protocol for rice technicians and extension workers, who are closely engaged in rice-based farming systems in times of pest infestation.

CABI is an international organization that has expertise in providing technical information and assistance to address agricultural and environmental problems.

The training is under the DA-PhilRice and CABI project dubbed “Monitoring the Occurrence, Host Plant Specificity, and Management of the Fall Armyworm in- and around-Rice Ecosystems in Selected Provinces in the Philippines” funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research. (PNA)

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