By Mar Arguelles
PILI, Camarines Sur - The Department of Agriculture here is alarmed at the damage a pest called "waya-waya" has caused on cornfarms across the Bicol region.
The DA said the very destructive corn pest, which originated from Mindanao, has already affected close to 500 hectares of corn in the Bicol region.
The cornplant hopper (Stenocranus pacificus) has also infested thousands of hectares of cornfarms in Mindanao since early 2004.
Agriculturists said it was first detected in Bicol sometime in August but the pest infestation has surged and farmers in Bicol have begun to complain of the damage it has wreaked on their crops.
DA Regional Communications Division chief Emily Bordado said that it has been reported in the six municipalities in Albay and in some areas of Camarines Sur.
The presence of the pest was first detected in Ligao City, particularly in Barangays Paulog, Bonga and Pamaniquian, where about 20 hectares were affected.
It has also been reported in the adjacent town of Guinobatan but the exact hectarage is still to be determined.
The department said Camarines Sur also reported incidents of waya-waya infestation in about 200 hectares of corn in Barangays Sta. Teresita, Sta. Maria, Ni'o Jesus and San Pedro in Iriga City. Barangays Tambo and Burocbusoc both in Buhi town were also infested as Barangays Casuna and Panagan in Tigaon town.
Farmers in the town of Pili have reported the infestation to their corn farm which they sighted in Barangay Del Rosario where a 1-hectare cornfield was devoured by the hoppers.
Dr. Evangeline de la Trinidad, chief of the DA's Regional Crops Protection Center explained the damage pattern as yellowing of leaves; blackening of leaves due to sooty molds or fungal attack. Eventually young corn ears fail to mature.