Destructive rice pest reemerges in Philippines

  • 19 November 2017

Source: The Philippine Star
19 Nov 2017

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines — Brown planthopper (BPH), a major rice pest which causes extensive damage and losses, has resurfaced, creating a major source of stress and anxiety for farmers.

During the first 10 months of the year, 18 provinces had been ravaged by this pest that turned rice leaves to brown.

In the province of Samar alone, about 4,000 hectares of rice fields had been infested by BHP.

So far, the area infested is much wider than the nine provinces that reported hopperburn in 2015. Last year, the area attacked grew three-fold.

Damage to rice crop was estimated at P17.87 million.

During a forum held at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol expressed concern over the re-emergence of BPH.

Aside from infesting the entire harvests, BPH also transmits two deadly viruses: rice ragged stunt and rice grassy stunt.

"Instead of reducing BPH infestation, heavy pesticide use can kill the natural enemies of BPH and allow them to multiply and destroy crops without let-up," he added.

Piñol assured that the DA is striving hard "to alleviate farmers' misery from pests and diseases."

Bayer, for its part, conceded that the viruses transmitted by BPH "have no cure to date."

PhilRice acting executive director Sailila Abdula explained that BPH causes extensive sap loss owing to its feeding on the basal (lower) portion of the rice plant, resulting in drying or "hopperburn".

"Farmers should be equipped with proper and timely interventions on how to handle pest management," Abdula said.

During the forum, the participants shared the latest information on BPH, how and why it seems to come back, and the solutions that have been tried and tested by the experts.

Bayer country commercial head Ilinas Lao said BPH hotspots are now being closely monitored and that other sites are on alert because of the threats posed by hopperburn in provinces across the country.

"Bayer is working closely with industry stakeholders to ensure that the Philippines can be better prepared against BPH," Lao said.