Negros Occidental

Armyworms ravage 177 hectares of farmland in Negros Occidental

Reymund Titong

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Armyworms ravage 177 hectares of farmland in Negros Occidental

INFESTATION. An Armyworm, locally known as "tagustos" eats leaves of sugarcane in Barangay Cabadiangan in Himamaylan City.

Reymund Titong/Rappler

Local experts blame El Niño for the infestation due to unpredictable weather and weakened crops

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The ongoing infestation of armyworms, locally known as “tagustos,” has already affected 177.5 hectares of farmland in Negros Occidental.

Initial data from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) reported on Friday, June 21, revealed that the infestation has affected 112.54 hectares of sugarcane and corn in Himamaylan City and 65 hectares of cornfields in the towns of Isabela, Moises Padilla, and Binalbagan, affecting more than 280 farmers.

Himamaylan City agriculture consultant Cesar Gayem said that most of the affected crops were in the vegetative stage, which is the period when crops are actively carrying out photosynthesis and accumulating resources needed for flowering and reproduction.

He explained that if crops are in the vegetative stage, they can still recover from the infestation of armyworms.

Gayem said that the Mahalang village in the city is experiencing a severe infestation in the corn fields, requiring more potent pesticides than biochemical pesticides.

He added that for less severe infestations, biochemical pesticides that control pests through non-toxic mechanisms are recommended.

Gayem also said that the sugarcane fields in the villages of Cabadiangan and Carabalan were significantly affected. 

Corn and sugarcane fields in other towns and cities in central and southern Negros have also reportedly been impacted by the infestation.

Gayem said Himamaylan, the worst-hit area based on initial data, is conducting further validation efforts to assess the total damage caused by the armyworm infestation.

He also said that if the infestation cannot be controlled, “a hectare of cornfield can be eaten by armyworms just at night.”

Development worker Ann Merano said, “The El Niño event brought unpredictable rain and warmer temperatures, disrupting the agricultural cycle and weakening crop resilience. As a result, the armyworm infestation has spread rapidly, destroying vast swathes of cornfields and threatening food security in the village.

Massive spraying

The provincial government has allocated P3 million worth of pesticides for the massive spraying to combat the infestation of armyworms.

Nilo Basco Jr., head of the crop protection section of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, said they will conduct massive spraying in affected towns and cities alongside the Sugar Regulatory Administration to curb the spread of armyworms.

Meanwhile, 5th District Representative Dino Yulo said they started their spraying on Thursday, June 20, with the assistance of private firms to promptly address the infestation, which threatens small-scale farmers’ livelihoods and food security. –

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