Rice black bugs infest another Iloilo town

The Iloilo agriculture office said the public should not fret over the spreading rice black bug infestation as of now. (DA-6 photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo province’s agriculture office chief on Friday confirmed the presence of rice black bugs (RBB) in another town, but he reiterated that the public has nothing to worry about as of now.

Iloilo Provincial Agricultural Office (IPAO) head Ildefonso Toledo told Bombo Radyo Iloilo that RBBs have been spotted in Janiuay in the central part of the province.

But information on the location and the volume of the bugs spotted and caught, as well as the extent of their damage, if any, remains to be determined as validation is underway.

Initial reports from IPAO office indicated that at least 6 hectares, or less than 10 percent of the total planting area of standing crops (89.25 hectares), was affected by the infestation.

“We have initial reports, but this is still subject to validation because we sent out our technical personnel. There have been sightings in Janiuay as initially reported to us,” Toledo said.

Janiuay is the fourth town to confirm the presence of RBBs after Toledo himself confirmed that the towns of Concepcion, Cabatuan, and Pototan were affected in the previous week.

He said that while their office already confirmed bug sightings, they cannot provide more information as validated reports have yet to reach him.

RBBs were first spotted during an evening basketball game in Concepcion town’s Aglosong village around the first week of May.

Toledo said that there was no agricultural damage reported in Concepcion as they had no standing crops at the time of the infestation.

He reiterated suggestions of trapping and burying the bugs, as well as flooding croplands with water to prevent them to replicate.

RBBs are a pest that feed on crops at their vegetative or maturing stage and renders them un-harvestable, characterized by “bug burns” or whitening of the crops.

Toledo noted that the first recorded incidences in the Philippines of the bug were in Mindanao, migrating from the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia.

The first incidence of RBBs in Iloilo province was in Ajuy in the early 2000s, which he remarked as not being severe as this was swiftly responded to by preventing the replication of the species.