By Danny O. Calleja
PILI, Camarines Sur, Jan. 24 (PNA) – The regional head for Bicol of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has allayed fear over the recently reported new insect pest confronting several rice farms in the region, saying there is nothing to fear as the infestation is limited to only a very small area.
“Bicol farmers have nothing to be alarmed about this new rice menace as its infestation is not widespread. We are urging farmers and agricultural technicians, though, to closely monitor rice farms and immediately report to us any presence of the pest and other disease incidences,” DA regional executive director Jose Dayao said on Tuesday.
The new pest was first noted several months ago to have infested some rice farms in Ragay, Camarines Sur and Dimasalang, Masbate where a total of about 100 hectares have been affected with an extent of at least 50 percent damages.
Promptly upon receiving the reports sometime in September of last year, Dayao said, Dr. Evangeline de la Trinidad, the chief of the Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) conducted ocular inspections of the affected areas and collected several specimens of the unidentified insect pest which she submitted to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) for analysis.
Several other regions of the country like Central Visayas or Region 7, Eastern Visayas (Region 8) and Caraga (Region 13) that also noted the presence of the insect pest initially called it by different names like rice seed bug, dirt-colored seed bug and rice grain bug.
It was however temporarily identified by the Eastern Visayas RCPC based in Tacloban City as Paromius longulus. It was found to be infesting rice panicles, from flowering stage to milking stage, which results to unfilled or discolored grains that eventually reduces its quality and subsequently yield.