RICE RESEARCH and development workers are preparing for a possible infestation of the fall armyworm pest, according to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).  

PhilRice said in a statement that it has partnered with the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) to train personnel in how to identify and manage the pest, which is also damaging to corn.

According to PhilRice, the fall armyworm has been detected in both corn and rice fields in the Cagayan Valley, with majority of the affected crops at the seedling stage.

Training for possible fall armyworm infestation in rice involves researchers and extension workers from PhilRice, the Bureau of Plant Industry, the Regional Crop Protection and Management Centers in Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, and local government units in Pampanga, Tarlac, and Pangasinan.

“The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) existing management protocol on fall armyworm only applies to corn. A protocol is required for rice because its cultivation is different,” PhilRice crop protection expert Genaro S. Rillon said.

“Early preparedness is necessary as any pest invasion in rice is a threat to food security,” PhilRice fall armyworm project team head Evelyn M. Valdez said.

The fall armyworm was first detected in June 2019 in Piat, Cagayan and has since been found in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Bicol, and Northern Mindanao. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave