/ 5 February 2021

RESEARCHERS of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños and officials from the Department of Agriculture recently concluded talks on managing the outbreak of Fall Armyworm that has affected farmers nationwide.

The discussions led to the creation of a FAW Management Team which is composed of researchers and scientists from the DA and UPLB. The team will work under the university’s College of Agriculture and Food Science.

The management team will gather information on how to better deal with the outbreak.

The DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research and the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development will provide the funds for the studies.

Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian led the DA group during the dialogue. His team included BAR Director Dr. Vivencio Mamaril, Dr. Jonar Yago, assistant director of the Bureau of Plant Industry; Dr. Fermin Adriano, special senior policy advisor at DA; and Dr. Candido Damo of the National Corn Program.

The panel from UPLB included Chancellor Jose Camacho Jr.; Dr. Merdelyn C. Lit, vice chancellor for research and development; Dr. Elpidio Agbisit, dean of CAFS; and Dr. Aimee Lynn Dupo, faculty regent.

Sebastian said that the dialogue was necessary to put scientific breakthroughs into practice and implement them on a large scale among farmers.

“The measure of the success of a scientist is in the outcome of his work, not just in the publication. We are trying to work with you now so that we can pick up some of your good ideas on how to manage FAW, then we can upscale it,” Sebastian said.

He underscored the need to develop control measures and mitigate the resurgence of FAW before the dry months.

He also asked for means to determine FAW hotspots ahead of time and for proper preparations and management.

Dr. Lilia Portales, BPI’s focal person for Plant Health and Pest Status, said that FAW has affected at least 2,600 hectares of corn nationwide.

Portales and Wilma Cuaterno, chief of the BPI-Crop Pest Management Division, identified research needs in FAW management such as devising better ways to lure or catch FAW to improve monitoring, crop diversification strategies, and field sanitation.

They also highlighted the need to develop standard training protocols for farmers in FAW management to help them identify infestations early.