Written by Web Team
Farmers` worries on controlling the populations of rice black bugs (RBB) may now be lessened with the mass production of the insect pests’ biological enemies.
In a recent National Consultation and Planning Workshop to Address RBB and other Pests in the Philippines conducted at PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, experts from public sector agreed to make Metarhizium anisopliae more accessible to farmers.
Metarhizium, an RBB-attacking microbial pathogen, attacks RBB with its green toxin-producing spores that paralyze the pest then kill them.
The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) will provide virulent pure Metarhizium culture to the Regional Crop Protection Centers (RCPC) to ensure the quality of the organisms. On the other hand, RCPC will mass produce Metarhizium with technical assistance from PhilRice, and distribute to farmers needing the biocontrol fungus.
“Collaboration among research agencies and local government units are needed in mass producing the fungus as more manpower is required to make the fungus widely available to farmers,” Genaro S. Rillon, a PhilRice crop protection expert, said.
The consultation and planning workshop anticipated RBB infestation as incidences were recently reported in the CALABARZON and MIMAROPA regions, and parts of Central Luzon.
Rillon said RBB is one of the most damaging insect pests that cause severe damage by sucking the plant sap resulting in deadheart during the vegetative stage and empty grains or whiteheads during the reproductive stage. The attack can severely reduce yield up to 80 percent and can cause complete crop loss due to bug burn.
“The use of Metarhizium can reduce 30-68% of RBB population in seven days. Unlike chemical pesticides, the use of Metarhizium is safe for humans and the environment,” Rillon said.
Rillon encouraged farmers and technicians to isolate Metharhizium from infected RBB as the procedures are easy to follow including preparing plated potato Dextrose Agar.
Meanwhile, DA Sec. Proceso J. Alcala, an organic farming advocate, supports the use of biological control agents against pests. In his recent trip at PhilRice-Agusan in January, he commended the Institute for producing and promoting the biological agent. Furthermore, the secretary awarded Dr. Gerardo F. Estoy Jr for his commendable researches on Metarhizium.
The consultation and planning workshop was participated by 23 crop protection specialists from PhilRice, BPI, RCPCs, and local government units.