To prepare the rice research and development workers in the country for the possible Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation, the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) tapped the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) in conducting an intensive training among rice technical workers in the country.
Tools developed by CABI were introduced in a recent 3-day online session by CABI’s pest experts from Malaysia, India, UK, and Africa. Identifying and managing FAW were also presented to 49 researchers and extension workers from DA-PhilRice, DA-Bureau of Plant and Industry, DA- Regional Crop Protection and Management Center (RCPMC) in Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, and local government units of Pampanga, Tarlac, and Pangasinan.
According to Genaro Rillon, DA-PhilRice’s crop protection expert, the training was very timely and relevant as the DA’s existing management protocol on FAW only applies to corn. He said that a protocol is required for rice because its cultivation is different from corn.
“Early preparedness is necessary as any pest invasion on rice is a threat to food security,” added Ms. Evelyn Valdez, FAW project team lead of DA-PhilRice.
In the past cropping season, FAW was observed affecting not only corn but also rice crops in Cagayan and in other parts of Region 2. Minda Flor Aquino, DA-RCPMC chief, reported on May 20 that affected rice crops are mostly at seedling stage.
In a series of technical briefings conducted in affected and adjacent rice fields, DA Cagayan Valley advised farmers to observe early symptoms, such as cut/damaged leaf margins and sightings of larvae in the area. FAW infestation was recorded affecting corn-producing areas in the country.
Working with pest experts from CABI, DA-PhilRice aims to craft strategies in developing and disseminating pest management protocol for rice technician, and extension workers, who are closely engaged with rice and rice-based farming systems farmers in times of pest infestation. CABI is an international organization that has expertise in providing technical information and assistance to address agricultural and environmental problems.
The training is under the DA-PhilRice and CABI project titled “Monitoring the Occurrence, Host Plant Specificity, and Management of the Fall Armyworm in- and around-Rice Ecosystems in Selected Provinces in the Philippines” funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research.