Saturday, March 31, 2012
MUNOZ CITY, Nueva Ecija, March 31, 2012-Mr. Leonardo Marquez, Chief of the Philippine Rice Research Institute crop protection division has warned local farmers against massive rat infestation in their farms where crops are nearing the booting stage with the increase in the rodents’ population this month.
“The farmers should inspect potential breeding grounds of rats, many of which have gotten pregnant this month,” he said.
Marquez sounded the alarm after PhilRice laborers caught 80 rats in a 90-hectare farmland during a two-hour operation at its central experiment station here.
Marquez said the rat population starts to swell at booting stage when rats will have something to feed on, which favors breeding. He said with enough food and water, a pair of rats and their offspring can produce up to 500 puppies.
Armed with sacks, fish nets, bamboo rods and pails, PhilRice laborers track rats on creeks, irrigation canals and ducts.
Marquez said catching rats requires proper timing and must be employed when their population is still low or before rice enters the reproductive stage to reduce potential damage.
He said rats usually hide and reproduce in burrows, then go out from their holes when rice plants are in reproductive stage.
Marquez said burrows may be filled up with mixed soil and water which can cause the burrows to close when mud dries up.
To reduce rat population, Marquez recommended a year-round community-wide rat control, field sanitation, and proper water management. He stressed that community-wide rat control conducted twice a month is vital because rats are very mobile and elusive to catch.
Presently, PhilRice is spearheading rat control activities at least four times a month.
He also said that fields must be free from weeds and dikes and must be kept narrow while depths of irrigation water must be maintained at between three to five centimeters to discourage rats from cutting and chewing the tillers. (Jason de Asis)
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