South Cotabato mulls TWG to address crop losses from pest attacks, calamities
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, March 9 (PNA) -- The provincial government of South Cotabato is set to create a technical working group (TWG) that will look into the series of pest infestations and impact of calamities in the area since last year that already left around PHP657.5 million in crop losses.
Justina Navarrete, chief of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG), said Thursday her office is currently working on the establishment of the TWG, which will be composed of various provincial, city and municipal government offices.
She said the technical body will mainly study the nature and occurrence of the pest attacks, and craft preventive and response strategies.
In terms of calamities, she said the TWG will be tasked to identify measures that will help mitigate their impact and reduce potential losses to agricultural crops.
“This is also aimed to ensure synchronized interventions whenever problems on infestations and calamities would occur,” Navarrete said.
The official said the proposed body will be chaired by the OPAG, while the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office will act as vice chair.
Its members are the Provincial Agriculture and Fishery Council, and agriculture offices of the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
Navarrete said the local agriculture offices pushed for the creation of the TWG to properly address the increasing losses to various agricultural crops and fishery products due to pest infestations and calamities.
Citing their assessment, she said the damages to palay and corn crops already reached around PHP631.87 million since last year.
The bulk of the damage, around PHP390.9 million, was caused by the onslaught of the El Nino Phenomenon in the first and second quarters of 2016.
Some PHP44.6 million worth of crops were damaged due to “lodging or the flattening of fields” as a result of twisters and related occurrences, PHP3.3 million to flashfloods, and PHP934,300 to strong winds.
Navarrete said the pest infestations left around PHP191.56 million in damages, mainly to rice and corn crops.
She said the rodent infestation alone in the second half of 2016 caused around PHP165 million in damages.
Around PHP11.768 million worth of crops were destroyed due to rice stem borer infestation, PHP9.19 million to locusts, PHP4 million to bacterial leaf blight, and PHP1.5 million to black bug.
The damage to high value commercial crops was listed at PHP21.95 million, with PHP3.4 million due to strong and heavy winds, PHP16.5 million to slug caterpillar and PHP1.99 million to chrysomellid beetle attacks.(PNA)