By: Elsa S. Subong
THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas has launched a year-round rat control program in the wake of increasing rat infestations in many parts of the region.
Rat and other pest control programs have been regularly done but this time it is more focused on the former not just because of farm damages but of illnesses they bring.
DA-6 focal person on rat and pest control Rene Famoso said with the continuous round of cropping because of adequate water supply, rats do not leave the farms anymore as they have food there.
“We are relentlessly campaigning because with less damage, our production will be greater,” Famoso said.
Famoso said Capiz and Negros Occidental had more hectares affected, with more than 6,000 and 1,000 respectively.
Despite the smaller number of hectares affected, Famoso said Negros Occidental incurred higher damages because of the sugarcane plantations where rats abound.
Famoso said the irrigated fields in Iloilo had minimal damage, in spite of the continuous planting done, because the towns have intensified mass physical killings, without using pesticides.
Rat control activities are done a month before each cropping season, as rodents are easily found when the fields are cleared for planting.
The DA field personnel are conducting massive information dissemination campaigns backed up the reactivated Letter of Instruction number 405 issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The LOI, according to Famoso directs the local government units to organize their Barangay Rat and other Pests Control Technical Working Group and draw up action plans.
There are already 17 towns which have complied, while the others are in the process, where LGUs alongside each other, group themselves into implementing common strategies.
“This is also effective as rats go from one place to the other. An area cannot do the control alone, without the neighboring areas doing the same,” Famoso said.
Famoso added that even schools are involved in the campaign, likewise, homes, so that not only damage on crops can be prevented but also adverse health effects brought by leptospirosis and other illnesses.
Famoso said a Rat Damage Appraisal is done after every rat control activity in an area, that is, when crops are up.
The DA is stepping up rat and other pests control program because food sufficiency is affected, according to DA-6 Director Larry Nacionales.