Scientists, farmers conclude investigation on crop infestation in Samar, prove massive attack on crops

Scientists and experts from UP along with Northern Samar farmers conclude investigative mission on crop infestation in the province today May, 28 presenting findings that main crops of the province have indeed been massively infested with different pests.

Mr. Randolph Candano of the UPLB NCPC discussing pest control methods to the farmers of Las Navas, Northern Samar
Photo by: Kelvin Tonzon, Eastern Vista

In a public forum held at the University of Eastern Philippines – College of Science, scientists from UP Los Baños’ National Crop Protection Center, UPLB-Office of Pahinungod, UEP Environmental Science Department along with farmers groups People Surge-NS and Northern Samar Small Farmers’ Association NSSFA, the team has revealed the list of pests that affected the main crops of farmers in the province which are rice, coconut, and abaca.

Dr Cayabyab (left) discussing the kinds of pests that attacked the abaca crops of farmers in Northern Samar with EIM delegates Prof. Roling Obleopas of UEP and Mr. Joshua Sagdullas of BAYAN-SB while doing field work.
Photo credits: NSSFA

Dr. Bonifacio Cayabyab of the the UPLB-NCPC revealed that the massive decimation of abaca plants to almost 100 percent is mainly due to the bunchy top virus and banana weevil, a bug devouring abaca and related plants. For rice, it has been affected with bacterial leaf blight, rice grain bugs, and rice black bugs. And even coconutis not spared with Brontispa, Rhonoceros beetle, and mites damaging the trees.

“The pest infestation problem can still be arrested through different means using natural or chemical methods,” said Dr. Cayabyab.

Dr. Cayabyab (left) seated with Maria Senobio, leader-farmer of NSSFA. Photo taken during one of the FGDs of the EIM.
Photo credits: NSSFA Facebook Page

Northern Samar farmers however added that action is needed now more than ever.

“Now, that we already have scientific basis regarding the pest infestation problem that has been plaguing our communities, the government has not one reason to tell us farmers, that pests in our crops are just tales we made,” said Gina Pajanilla, spokesperson of NSSFA. She argued that the government – both provincial and national through the Department of Agriculture and attached agencies have been negligent on the worrisome situation of the farmers in the province with little to no aid at all provided.

“We went to the National Capital ourselves to press for government intervention regarding our dismal situation, because since 2014, our crop productivity has dropped dramatically,” added Rosco. The EIM also released its socio-economic findings that abaca, coconut, and rice farmers’ income have tremendously dropped with most families deeply relying on nuts and root crops, while some rely on government dole-outs particularly the 4Ps program.

Upon the request of Northern Samar Small Farmers Association, in coordination with scientists’ organization AGHAM, UP Los Baños Chancellor Dr. Fernando Sanchez dispatched a team from its National Crop Protection Center and Office of Pahinungod to look into the alleged dismal economic situation of the farmers from reported massive crop infestation.

Gina Pajanilla, Spokesperson of NSSFA
Photo credits: NSSFA Facebook Page

The EIM kicked-off on May 25 with the team immediately proceeding to the mountain barrios of Las Navas town in the said province. The team conducted ocular field visits, Focus-group discussions and Key information interviews in the upland and remote villages of the said town. The team has collected samples of the agricultural pests for further studies.

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Eastern Vista

Eastern Vista is an alternative media organization in Eastern Visayas. Stories of people in the struggle for justice and aid after super typhoon Yolanda inspired its creation in 2014. Eastern Vista is also a co-producer of Lingganay han Kamatuoran, a Waray-based radio magazine program airing since 2003. From Eastern Philippines, Eastern Vista shares the news and views from a people rising.

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