DA helps farmers hit by armyworm infestation in N. Ecija, Tarlac

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

January 19, 2024, 3:52 pm

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has intensified its efforts to deal with armyworm infestation by providing aid to affected onion farmers in several towns in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac.

DA Regional Field Office III Bureau of Plant Industry director Gerald Glenn Panganiban said 366 hectares out of the 10,217 hectares of farm lands planted with onion have been infested by armyworms.

Only crops in 6.9 hectares of the infested areas were totally damaged while 359.1 hectares sustained partial damage, Panganiban said.

Affected areas are in the towns of Bongabon and Talevera, and Palayan City in Nueva Ecija, and the towns of Anao and San Manuel in Tarlac.

No infestations were reported in Bataan, Pampanga and Zambales.

Around 87 percent of areas planted with onion have red varieties while 13 percent are planted with white onions. The rest is planted with shallots.

Panganiban said the High Value Crops Development Program of the DA has provided 2.07 tons of onion seeds worth PHP30.4 million to farm areas in Central Luzon since December.

Meanwhile, BPI and the Regional Crop Protection Center have provided pheromone lures, neem oil-based insecticides and technical assistance to affected onion growers.

The DA said additional 1.3 tons of red and white onion seeds worth PHP20.3 million and four cold storage for onions valued at PHP168 million will be provided to onion-producing areas.

The local government units also pledged to buy more organic insecticides and pheromone lures to deal with armyworms.

Armyworms are caterpillar-like larvae stage which would eventually become moths. They are destructive pests that usually consume turf grass but would eat any vegetation in their path.

They can be controlled using neem oil-based sprays or with biological controls like earwigs, spiders and predatory wasps. (PNA)