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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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HomeAdvertisementsResearchers explore natural control solutions vs new rice pest

Researchers explore natural control solutions vs new rice pest

Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is partnering with an inter-governmental, non-profit organization in identifying a potential biocontrol agent that may help stave off infestations of fall armyworm (FAW).

In an April 11 meeting, the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) reaffirmed its assistance in controlling possible FAW outbreaks on rice fields, which was first recorded in Cagayan in May 2021.

Evelyn M. Valdez, PhilRice senior science research specialist, said their team has been monitoring FAW infestations in Regions II and III and the Cordillera Autonomous Region. Collected samples of fungus-infected FAW were collected during their site monitoring.

“With our current knowledge gap regarding its effects on rice and rice-based farming systems in our country, we recognize the significant threat it poses to our food security. Given that farmers primarily resort to expensive and potentially harmful synthetic pesticides for control, exploring biocontrol methods emerges as a more sustainable solution. We have requested the expertise of CABI to help identify a potential biocontrol agent. We will send them the samples for further analysis after we have isolated and assessed the specimens,” she said.

Previously, FAW primarily targeted corn, but it has now extended its host range to include rice infesting 18-28-day old seedlings with the larvae feeding on the leaves. The first infestation in Cagayan spread in 13 municipalities in Region II. 

The name “armyworm” comes from how these insects gather in large groups during the larval stage and can destroy large areas of crops. The Food and Agriculture Organization reported that some countries reported a yield loss ranging 3-5% in 2020 and 2021.

Meanwhile, Dr. Feng Zhang, CABI regional director for East and South-East Asia, emphasized the critical need for collaborative research initiatives to address pest and disease challenges in agriculture.

“Addressing the challenges posed by emerging pests and diseases in rice cultivation demands united efforts. Only through collective action can we effectively safeguard rice production and ensure food security for communities worldwide,” he said. (By Ardian Dolera, DA-PhilRice)

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