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DA eyes more biological pest control for crops

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Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has directed the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to increasingly promote production of biological control agents so more of these can be available year-round for farmers to use in addressing crop infestation without compromising food safety and environmental protection.

”Let’s further produce such agents in biocontrol facilities,” he told BPI officials this week when the agency celebrated its 82nd anniversary.

His directive supports DA’s bid for more sustainable and organic farming nationwide as well as for increased local production of safe food.

DA earlier announced plans to spend its P61.73 billion 2012 budget mainly on the Food Staples Sufficiency Program which is among the administration's priorities.

The agency also targets commencing soon the exportation of organically grown vegetables.

Experts describe biological control as the measure to reduce pest populations using natural means carried out by micro-organisms, insects and other elements of nature.

For agriculture, they said natural means of controlling infestation include predation and parasitism.

Alcala lauded BPI, an agency under DA, for helping promote biological control to protect crops.

”BPI is known in propagating Trichogramma, our friend that attacks corn borers in corn, stem borers in palay as well as fruit and shoot borers in eggplants,” he said.

He also cited the fungi metarhizium as a natural agent against rice black bugs and coconut’s enemy brontispa.

A soil-based fungi called Trichoderma as well as other insects are also helpful particularly for organic farming, he added.

In its 2011 year-end report to Malacanang earlier, DA said 357,772 Trichogramma cards and 181,208 earwigs were distributed to farmers as part of the agency’s biological control measures against infestation in corn, one of the country’s staple crops.

DA also reported monitoring 3,895 hectares of local corn land.

Such interventions helped the country achieve a total corn production of 4.73 metric tons during 2011’s third quarter, DA noted.

By PNA/PIA9-ZBST




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