ARMY of worms, rats, and rice black bug damaged about 435 hectares of crops in Negros Occidental province.

Provincial Agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan said that based on their data as of July 22, army worms infested seven hectares of ricefields in Murcia, 28 hectares in Silay City, two hectares of sugarcane and 38 hectares of corn in Escalante City, two hectares of sugarcane and five hectares of grasslands in Cadiz City and .25 hectares in Candoni.

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In San Enrique, eight hectares of ricefields were infested by rice black bug and 345.2 hectares were damaged by rats.

The recurrence of pests, Tabianan said, is due to the very long dry season caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

Tabianan also reported that his office is currently closely monitoring rice black bug and locust reoccurrence, as well as the possible outbreak of other pests that usually attack during the first cropping season.

He added that he will meet with all the crop protection personnel on July 26 and he will also reactivate Crop Protection Action Teams down to the barangay level.

He has called on affected farmers to come to the provincial agriculture office for the needed pesticides. (Teresa Ellera-Dulla)