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Philippines - Onion-growing city loses P261M to armyworms

An armyworm infestation has destroyed P261 million worth of onions here, prompting the local government to consider placing the city under a state of calamity.

The infestation ravaged 930.26 hectares of more than 1,100 ha of onion plantations and affected 2,297 farmers, according to the city agriculture office.

Armyworms also attacked onion farms in the Nueva Ecija towns of Sto. Domingo, Bongabon and Llanera as well as several towns in Pangasinan province.


The worms, locally known as “harabas,” destroyed 106.65 ha planted with red shallots that cost farmers P19.6 million in losses. Harabas also attacked 94.90 ha planted with yellow granex, destroying P15 million worth of crops; and 728.71 ha planted with red creole that cost farmers P226 million in losses.

It was the first time armyworms had invaded onion farms in San Jose, said Violeta Vargas, city agriculturist. In 2016, armyworms destroyed crops in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija’s onion basket.

Amor Cabico, head of the city disaster risk reduction and management council, has recommended the declaration of a state of calamity in San Jose to allow the city government to release P5 million from its quick response fund.

Ariel Alejo, crop protection officer of the Nueva Ecija agriculture office, said they had told farmers “to save what could be saved” if they were unable to control the armyworm attacks.

Corn farmers’ problem

According to him, farmers harvested only 15 bags of red onion bulbs, after planting a can of seeds that should have produced at least 50 bags. “If they fail to generate 50 ‘buriki’ (bags) per can, they lost profits,” he said.

In Pangasinan, while onion farmers and mango growers battled insect infestation, corn farmers found they may be dealing with their own problems involving abnormal corn cobs.

Provincial agriculturist Dalisay Moya said 223 farmers, who planted corn in 333.5 ha of agricultural land in the towns of Aguilar, Mangatarem, Basista, Calasiao and Urbiztondo; and San Carlos City, yielded corn cobs with incomplete kernels.

Last month, onion growers in Basista, Alcala, Bayambang and Malasiqui suffered huge losses when their farms were invaded by thousands of armyworms.

Mango growers in the province also battled cecid flies that had attacked mango fruits.

Source –

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