Rats are the major agricultural pest across Asia. Rats are found in the irrigated rice crops, all seasons are favorable for rat’s reproduction as well as crop damage. Easy availability of food, water, shelter, and safety are the factors which provide them with optimum breeding conditions.
The rice field rats feed at night with the highest activity and at day time they are found among vegetation, maturing fields etc. The rice field rats pull the transplanted plants and they also chop down the young seedlings. At the heading stage when the panicles are visible, the rats feed on them and during ripening stage; they feed on developing rice grains.
Rat damage in the crops can be observed by the following sypmtoms:
- Missing germinating seeds
- Damaged young seedlings
- Missing of plants
- Irregular cuttings of stem
- Chewed ripening grains
- Grain maturity delay
- Missing of grains
- Missing of panicles
In the traditional farming system, the rats generally cause chronic losses to production in the order of 5-10% per annum. Today it is not unusual for the farmers with smallholder rice farm to report chronic yield losses of 25-30% per annum. In many areas, farmers refuse from planting the second rice crop because of the damage done by rats.
In Asia, there is 5% of rice production loss which amounts to approximately 30 million; enough to feed about 200 million people each year. Post-harvest and pre-harvest losses are probably similar; from this it is clear that rats play an important role in influencing food security and poverty alleviation programs for the poor. Rodent also causes some dangerous diseases which can affect human health badly.
Let’s have a look at some of the evidence,
‘Di lang leptospirosis! Rat damages Negos rice farms
Farmers in Negros Occidental lost some P8.4 million to rats that infested some 703 hectares of rice farms there from July to August, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist said.
Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said crop damage was monitored in four barangays in San Enrique, 11 in Valladolid, and three in Bago City in southern Negros Occidental; and four barangays of Cadiz City in the north.
This affected 507 farmers with a combined rice field area of 703.66 hectares, the OPA said.
Bago City, considered the rice bowl of Negros Occidental, sustained the highest losses at P6.06 million, with 344 farmers and 467.24 hectares affected.
In Valladolid, 89 farmers with 113 hectares of rice farms sustained P1.6 million in losses while in San Enrique, 61 farmers with 112.45 hectares lost P473, 514.
Meanwhile, in Cadiz, 13 farmers with 10.97 hectares sustained P226, 830 in losses.
Oh rats! They’re eating away at our rice
KEPALA BATAS: Penang’s padi fields are facing a growing and gnawing rat menace that began after the disastrous flooding of the mainland last November.
The ricefield rat (Rattus argentiventer), which can produce five to 10 offspring each month, has been ravaging padi fields in Kepala Batas.
To date, these rats have decimated crops in nearly 29ha in Paya Keladi belonging to 50 farmers, said Integrated Agriculture Development Area (IADA) Penang director Mohd Nazri Abu Seman.
Traditional approaches to rodent population and damage management have relied on direct reduction of populations using fumigation, rodenticide baits, rodent traps which is of no use.
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