Saturday, August 13, 2011
Eels devastate rice fields in Nueva Ecija
SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ, Nueva Ecija, August 14, 2011-The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) reported that rice farmers in this city have been complaining over eels that have penetrated their farmlands, burrowing in their fields which depleted their supply of irrigation water due to seepage and affecting nutrient and weed management.
The rice paddy eel, known scientifically as Monopretus albus and locally as igat, palos, or kiwit, is a nocturnal fish that feeds on fishes, crustaceans, and other invertebrates and can be found in rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, and drains.
PhilRice crop specialists Leonardo V. Marquez and Fe A. dela Peña said that the eels are wreaking havoc on rice paddies in this city, affecting farmers’ productivity due to water seepage.
They revealed that the eel has evolved as the latest rice pest as it bores holes near dikes, in the process letting the water seep in through these holes which are connected to the holes in adjacent field.
Farmer Adriano Comilang Sr. said that to survive dry conditions, eels burrowed holes as deep as 1.5 meters in his farm during the dry season.
But PhilRice said eels not only attack during the dry season as reports of eel infestation have also been uncovered in Isabela and Negros this wet season.
Comilang lamented that irrigating his field had been less effective as the water collected in his field spills over to the neighboring farm. “With the holes made by eels, my field gets drained, while my adjacent farm is filled with water,” he said.
PhilRice researchers said fields should not be drained nor flooded as water is critical in nutrient uptake of plants and weed control. Right amount of water supply ensures good crop establishment, seedling vigor, normal crop growth, development, and yield, it said.
Comilang said he uses electric traps or covers holes to cushion the presence of eels in his farms.
Another farmer, Gregorio Gaspuz rebuilds dikes in another area or pours molluscides into holes to force the eels out. He also tried continuous irrigation to prevent his field from drying.
The two farmers, however, said that the practices are tedious as eels burrow and reproduce so fast.
“We are planning to conduct a study on the management of rice paddy eels as a long-term solution to the eel infestation,” Marquez and dela Peña said. (Jason de Asis)
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this blog do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of "THE CATHOLIC MEDIA NETWORK NEWS ONLINE".