Anti-rat campaign up in Cotabato, Maguindanao as rodents swarm rice, cornfields
A local chief executive in a town in Cotabato ordered a synchronized clean-up drive in all villages every last Friday of the month to ward off rodents infesting agricultural fields in the vicinity.
M’lang town Mayor Joselito Piñol said the local government will also implement a reward system to fight rat infestation. For every 10 tails of rats, a resident would be rewarded with one kilo of rice.
“Let us cooperate to eliminate these pests. Please get out from your respective offices and school and let us all join in the rat campaign,” Piñol said in a report posted by GMA News Online.
The move is in conjunction with the South Cotabato agricultural office’s move to launch a food for work program to farmer families affected by the rodent infestation and also help contain rodents’ destruction to agricultural crops already in vegetative stage.
Rice and corn farmers in some parts of Mindanao are up in arms against rats that have started to attack agricultural fields since December.
Nearly P30-million worth of rice and corn crops were damaged due to rat infestation that hit at least three towns in Cotabato.
Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported that nine villages in Kabacan, North Cotabato have been placed under a state of calamity. The rat plague has been attributed to the long dry spell that began in the middle of 2015 and which is expected to worsen at the onset of the El Niño phenomenon this year.
The information division of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist estimated that the rats damaged at least P13.5 million worth of crops in Kabacan town, P12.8 million in Aleosan and P3.2 million in Tulunan. Rodents currently infest at least 21 villages in the three towns.
In Aleosan town alone, at least 87 hectares of rice crops and 40.6 hectares of cornfields had been lost due to the rat plague.
Rodents also attacked close to a hundred hectares of cornfield in the villages of Banaya, Bituan, and Maybula in Tulunan town.
Agricultural officials have started distributing rodenticide or zinc phosphide to help farmers combat the pests even to farmers in Maguindanao that also suffered heavy losses due to rat infestation.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Agriculture Secretary Alexander Alonto said the Maguindanao-based farmers lost a combined P5.55 million worth of rice and corn crops in the towns of Mamasapano, Buldon, Datu Unsay Northern Kabuntalan, Sultan Mastura, and Datu Odin Sinsuat.
Alonto told Nash Maulana of the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corp., the rat infestation is the first to hit the province of Maguindanao in nearly 10 years and is ostensibly blamed on climate change.
ARMM Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF-ARMM) reported that the fest outbreak damaged some 1,900 hectares of rice fields in at least seven of Maguindanao’s 33 provinces.
Khadiguia Abdullah said the farmers lost up to 50 percent of rice and corn already in harvestable stage. [Ched Romulo]