STA. BARBARA, Pangasinan -- The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (Opag) has brushed aside reports of massive rat infestation in Sta. Barbara, saying this was not infestation at all, as only the edges of rice fields were attacked by the rodents.
"This was no infestation as the attack by rats was only minimal," said Nestor Batalla, assistant provincial agriculturist, on January 25.
He said the attack by rats was now under control, with the distribution of Racumin poison to farmers. The Racumin was spread in paths leading to the rodents’ hiding places.
The emergence of rats from their pits at this period of the year when it was hot was just normal, Batalla said, adding that when the rats were out, they look for food and feed on rice because of the juice from the plant.
If not controlled, the rats can devour all the standing rice crops planted during the second cropping season, Batalla said.
"What we, together with the municipal agriculture office and the Department of Agriculture, are doing, is we are giving out chemicals like Racumin. If the rat found these in their path and eat some particles, they will die," he said.
He said many rats already died as proven by the stink in many rice fields in Barangays Tuliao, Maningding and Malanay in Sta. Barbara and Talibaew in Calasiao.
Since there is an earth dike between Barangays Malanay and Talibaew, this is possibly where the rats are hiding, according to Batalla.
He said the fight against rats continue in these villages with the use of baits and cats. In some areas, he added, field rats were being caught by farmers for food as these were edible.
Batalla said Opag still advised farmers to continue their monitoring of fields in their areas until their second crop rice plants had all been harvested.
He expects rice planted during the second cropping season to be all harvested till March, adding that by April or May, rice fields will again be prepared for the main cropping season.
At the same time, Batalla assured that there is enough water to irrigate the farms planted for rice during the second cropping season.
He said the National Irrigation Administration programmed to service 18,000 hectares of land with irrigation water but since Thursday, some 19,000 hectares were already irrigated.
During summer, rice plants live only if irrigated twice a week, Batalla added. (PNA)