A CORN farm in the Davao Region. — BW FILE PHOTO

THE AGRICULTURE department’s Davao office has alerted farmers to check for possible fall armyworm (FAW) infestation after the pest was found in two farms in the region. The Crop Protection Division of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Davao announced that it is awaiting confirmation this week from the BPI head office in Manila on FAW larvae found in plantations in Davao City’s Baguio District and in Malalag, Davao del Sur. “Konti pa pero (It is minimal but) we are sharing the information not to create panic but awareness. We are pro-active to inform and make the farmers aware,” Marilou Infante, regional crop protection center chief, said in a media forum earlier this week. She explained that FAW is an insect pest that can feed on more than 80 crop species and may cause a significant drop in the production of such commodities as maize, rice, sorghum, and vegetables. “These insects are not endemic in the Philippines that is why they don’t have a natural enemy,” Ms. Infante said. The presence of FAW was confirmed first in Isabela in Region 2 and in Region 12 earlier this year. The BPI calls on farmers to monitor, do blanket spraying or use Metarhizium anisopliae, which is a fungus that grows naturally in soils. — Maya M. Padillo