BAUTISTA, Pangasinan – Onion farmers in this town lost PHP169 million worth of onions last year due to a massive infestation of armyworms locally known as harabas.
In an interview on Wednesday, municipal agriculturist Ernesto Dorado said the losses equate to 4.2 million kilos of onions, covering about 211.7 hectares out of a total land plantation area of 481.2 hectares.
Most of the affected onion plantations are located in Barangays Baluyot, Vacante, Cabuaan, Diaz, and Palisoc, he said.
Dorado said the average annual yield is at around 18 to 20 tons.
“Kung ang cost per kilo na 40 pesos, bale nasa pumapatak ng 169,000,360 pesos ang nawala sa mga magsasaka dahil sa harabas (If the cost is PHP40 per kilo, then the amount lost by farmers to harabas is more than PHP169 million),” he said.
Harabas are nocturnal pests attacking and feeding on the tender parts of onion leaves, reaching down to the bulbs, eventually killing the plant. Suppressing the armyworm larvae seems impossible as they are too many to handle.
“Around 500 ang average egg nainiluluwal ng harabas at nasa isa hanggang tatlong araw lang ang incubation period bago ito mameste (The average egg the harabas lays is around 500 and it only takes one to three days incubation period before the hatched egg could infest),” he added.
Dorado suggested changing the onion farmers’ planting schedule to suppress more infestations.
Meanwhile, the municipal agriculture office’s coordination with the Department of Agriculture Regional Office resulted in an ongoing experimental project on the infestation of harabas on Bautista town’s corn products.
Barangay Pogo was chosen as the pilot area for the said experiment.
As of this posting, the harabas also made a 70 percent significant damage on Bautista’s corn produce. (PNA)