THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said corn farmers will receive aid in containing the fall armyworm (FAW), including pheromone lures, pesticides, power sprayers, pest awareness materials, and digital equipment.

The program was authorized by Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar’s Memorandum Order No. 26, with funding from Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

According to Mr. Dar, corn accounted for 5.8% of gross value added in agriculture in 2020, valued at P102.5 billion at constant 2018 prices.

“Production was up to 8.12 million metric tons (MT) in an effective area of 2.55 million hectares with yields of about 4.18 MT per hectare for yellow corn and 1.89 MT per hectare for white corn,” Mr. Dar said in the memorandum.

Under the memorandum order, the project also provides for pest monitoring and surveillance in corn-growing areas.

According to Mr. Dar, the DA’s National Corn Program will oversee the implementation of the FAW management project and is charged with conducting assessments and filing regional reports and periodic updates, while the Regional Corn Program in affected provinces will lead the procurement of materials to be distributed to affected farmers.

The memorandum order also directed local government units to submit reports to the DA’s Regional Corn Program and regional crop pest management center as a condition for the release of pesticide and pheromone lures to their constituents.

FAW was first detected in June 2019 in Piat, Cagayan and has since spread to the Zamboanga Peninsula, Bicol, and Northern Mindanao. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave