Negros Occidental

Farmers plead for aid as armyworms invade Himamaylan cornfields

Reymund Titong

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Farmers plead for aid as armyworms invade Himamaylan cornfields

INFESTATION. A man shows armyworms he found on a rice field in Zamboanga del Norte.

Gualberto Laput/ Rappler

About 80 hectares of cornfields are affected by the infestation in one sub-village alone in San Antonio, Himamaylan City

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – An infestation of armyworms is devastating corn fields in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, prompting farming families to call for immediate government intervention.

Ann Merano, a worker for the non-governmental organization Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group Incorporated (PDG), told Rappler on Monday, June 17, that their assessment showed 80 hectares of cornfields affected by the infestation in Sitio Aglahog 1, Barangay San Antonio, Himamaylan City.

The infestation, said Merano, has been adversely affecting around 40 farming families in just one sub-village.

According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), armyworms are destructive pests known for their army-like movement through agricultural fields. They typically consume turf grass but can eat any vegetation in their path, causing extensive damage to crops. Control methods include neem oil-based sprays and biological controls such as earwigs, spiders, and predatory wasps.

Merano said the government needed to act immediately because the infestation has threatened the area’s main staple and source of livelihood.

“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,” she said.

Merano called on authorities to provide the affected farmers with effective, alternative, non-chemical pest control methods, technical guidance on pest management, and financial aid.

Merano also warned that the infestation could spill over to rice fields.

Despite implementing both traditional and modern pest control methods, Merano said her group’s resources were limited vis-à-vis the scale of the infestation.

“The support of the local government and other government agencies is vital to helping the community rebuild and secure its future,” Merano said.

Dr. Cyche Hisona, head of the Himamaylan City Agriculture Office, said on Tuesday, June 18, that they were assessing the situation to determine the necessary steps to mitigate the impact of the armyworm infestation.

Jojo Garsola, a farmer and indigenous peoples leader, said he was worried about the upcoming harvest season, fearing that the ongoing infestation could drastically reduce their farm produce.

“Our cornfields are our lifeblood. With the armyworms destroying them, we don’t know how we will feed our families,” he said.

Garsola appealed to the city government of Himamaylan to intervene and prioritize the needs of the affected families. –

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