PCIC payouts surge due to pest infestation, diseases

Posted on December 22, 2011

TACLOBAN CITY -- Crop insurance claims by farmers in the Eastern Visayas region surged this year due to pest infestation in rice farms, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) said.

As of November, PCIC had released P12 million, higher by about P3 million from last year, to 2,547 farmers in the region.

PCIC regional manager Dominico S. Digamon said that for damage from pests and diseases in rice farms alone, the agency paid out P7.42 million, higher than the agency’s releases for typhoon and flooding damage, which summed up to P4.5 million.

“Even without major calamities this year, we have paid more than the 2010 level considering that farmers incurred production losses because of rats, stemborer, rice tungro virus, rice black bug, and rice blast,” Mr. Digamon told reporters.

For the entire 2010, PCIC’s indemnity for rice totaled P9.4 million with P1.52 million paid out due to typhoons and flooding and P4 million due to pests and diseases.

Rey B. Salamat, chief of the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC), said rat infestation has plagued rice farms for years.

“We continue to educate farmers on how to control the rat population.

The disappearance of predators in farms such as snakes and owls because of human encroachment has contributed to the growing number of rats in farms,” Mr. Salamat said.

The RCPC has been distributing zinc phosphide, a rodenticide, in addition to the intervention provided by the local government units to farmers in affected municipalities.

PCIC recorded minimal claims for corn (P215,000), high value commercial crops (P414,000), and livestock (P143,000).

As of last month, PCIC has insured 5,170 rice farmers tilling 5,784 hectares of lands, only about 4% of the total area planted. -- Sarwell Q. Meniano