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Protect rice plants against golden apple snail or golden kuhol few days after they are transplanted, an expert from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) advised the farmers.

Golden Kuhol, considered a major pest as it could reduce yield by up to 40 percent, devour young plants from the base; damaging the leaves and leaf sheaths.

“When these parts are removed, the transplanted plants can no longer regenerate,” Anita V. Antonio, training specialist on crop protection, said.

Antonio said that handpicking, duck pasturing, screen tapping, staking, and removing egg masses are effective ways to control the snails in this crucial stage. Some insects and plants in the rice fields can also reduce the pest population.

“Red ants and long-horned grasshoppers feed on the eggs while leaves of gugo, sambong, calamansi, and makabuhay are used as attractants. Construct small canals to gather the golden apple snails and place the leaves of these plants in the area,” she said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recalled that the golden kuhol was introduced from Florida and Latin America to Taiwan and the Philippines in the early 1980s by private snail farmers hoping to “reap big profits exporting snails to Europe.”

In spite of its high protein content, snails were not patronized.

“The discarded snails quickly spread through waterways and irrigation canal; finding an ideal habitat in the rice fields and feeding on young succulent plants such as newly transplanted rice crops and weeds. Their fast growth and reproduction – females lay egg masses of up to 500 eggs once a week – leads to population levels that can destroy entire rice crops,” FAO said.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute