NegOcc braces for possible fall armyworm infestation

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By Nanette Guadalquiver

BACOLOD CITY -- Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson has formed the Provincial Coordinating Task Force on Fall Armyworm (FAW) to protect crops in the province from possible infestation.

“There is a critical need to create a provincial coordinating task force to ensure preparedness and to strengthen pest surveillance and management activities,” Lacson said in Executive Order 19-42 issued on Monday.

The governor chairs the body, with (3rd District) Board Member Andrew Montelibano, chairman of Provincial Board’s committee on agriculture, as co-chairman. Provincial agriculturist Japhet Masculino serves as action officer.

Last week, Regional Technical Director Rene Famoso, officer-in-charge of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Western Visayas, said they are verifying a suspected FAW case in Barangay La Granja, La Carlota City.

He warned farmers this exotic pest can infest more than 500 plant species. It was monitored earlier in Ilocos and Cagayan Valley Regions in Luzon.

In his order, Lacson directed the Capitol FAW task force to collaborate with its regional counterpart to ensure preparedness of the province with the new invasive pest at all stakeholder levels, and also prepare appropriate short and long-term action plans and be responsible for the regular submission of the provincial update and necessary data to the governor and the regional task force.

He also said the task force will spearhead the overall activities on the continued surveillance and detection of the possible presence of FAW within the province as well as enforce quarantine measures and regulations to prevent possible entry and spread.

Aside from that, Lacson said the body will validate reported field suspicion and work on the development of appropriate pest management technologies for the control of FAW within the province.

He added that information dissemination will be put in place and the task force will ensure timely release of pest advisory on FAW to the farmers through the local government unit.

The governor said the task force will also ensure the maintenance of buffer stock of effective biological control agents and recommended insecticides against FAW.

Also part of the task force are representatives from the Bureau of Plant Industry and its Quarantine Service, DA-Agricultural Programs Coordinating Office, National Seed Quality Control Services, Sugar Regulatory Administration, among others. (PNA)