CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit III (DA-RFU 3) announced Friday its newest innovation in addressing rat infestation in farmlands using the side-dish "bagoong" as a rat killing agent.

DA Regional Director Redentor Gatus told Sun.Star Pampanga Friday that the newest procedure was conceptualized through the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) and Municipal Agricultural Offices (MAO) in Nueva Ecija, in a joint effort to control the extent of damage to rice crops brought about by rat infestations.

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The massive rat poisoning dubbed as "Oplan Pain," which was recently implemented in Nueva Ecija, gave birth to the new method of using Zinc Phosphide (a rat poisoning agent).

The Zinc Phosphide powder stored in sachets is mixed with broken rice (binglid) and other organic materials and is flavored with boneless bagoong, a ratio of one pack to 150 grains of rice.

Initially, there were significant reports of rat infestation in the area, Gatus said.

Gatus said that DA Secretary Arthur Yap has ordered the regional agriculture officials to undertake campaign against rat infestation in Nueva Ecija being the rice bowl of Central Luzon amid reports that rice fields in 16 of its 27 towns have been affected by rat infestation.

Gatus also ordered his field personnel in Pampanga to spread the technology to other MAOs here.

"The program, I think, will greatly help in curbing rat infestations in many areas of Central Luzon. It is cost efficient and has little effect on the environment compared to purely chemical based rat repellants," he said.

Farmers are also educated by agriculture experts on the various procedures on how to eliminate rats, according to Gatus.

The procedures include narrowing the sizes of their dikes and levies, six inches in height and eight inches in width, so as to preclude rats from living in them and by digging the holes and burrows found in their farms.

The farmers are also advised to circumfuse their rice fields with plastic sheets termed as the Total Rat Barrier System, which is set in place one month before the regular planting. Its entrances are designed to trap the rats attempting to penetrate the fenced area, which houses rice plants intended to lure the rodents inside the blockade, Gatus said.

"Only rice farms situated adjacent to the creeks and irrigation canals have incidence of rats, but those positioned at some distance away or at the middle part of the town have limited rat presence. These programs and technical knowledge are now being spread in many parts of Central Luzon," Gatus added. (IOF)