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NCotabato rice farmers fear decline in harvest due to pests

MLANG, North Cotabato – Several farmers in this town fear a huge decline in their rice harvest after plant pests attacked their farms, the town's agriculture office reported Saturday.

Municipal agriculturist Noemi Nicholas told local reporters that at least 50 farmers complained of severe damage to their rice fields due to stem borer infestation.

Stem borer is a destructive pest that feasts on the roots of newly planted palay.

Nicolas said at least 200 hectares of rice affected by the infestation have no more chance of recovery.

In a separate interview, former Barangay Inas chairman Paeng Porras said he suspects some farmers whose rice suffered borer infestation did not follow the correct farming calendar.

"Perhaps they did not heed our agriculture office's appeal of practicing synchronized planting," he said.

Meanwhile, Councilor Gerardo Piñol, who heads the Sangguniang Bayan Committee on Agriculture, said assistance will be given to the affected farmers, provided they promise to follow the correct farming procedure.

Piñol also encouraged farmers to choose a rice variety that is not susceptible to insect attacks.

"Synchronized planting is still the best practice. With this, we will be able to minimize pest attack in our rice fields," he added. (WILLIAMOR A. MAGBANUA)

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