Crop losses brought by a dry spell and rat infestation to rice fields in Negros Occidental in the past three months have reached PHP17.479 million, records of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) as of Wednesday showed.

Two localities in southern Negros, Hinigaran town and Himamaylan City, were the worst-hit.

In Hinigaran, a dry spell from November to December last year, which affected more than 550 hectares of rice farms in 13 villages planted by 587 farmers, brought PHP10.01 million in losses.

The data was based on field validation that has been conducted by the OPA with the Municipal Agriculture Office since January 4.

Meanwhile in Himamaylan, rat infestation from December to January, which affected 212.5 hectares of rice crops in 11 villages owned by 236 farmers, resulted in losses amounting to PHP7.469 million.

Last week, farmers in Pontevedra town and also in Himamaylan reported PHP2.445-million worth of production losses due to rice grain bug infestation.

An earlier OPA report showed that 59 hectares of rice fields in Pontevedra incurred PHP2.053 million in damages.

Also in Himamaylan, affected were 9.04 hectares, with damages valued at PHP391,776.

In November last year, rice grain bug infestation was also reported in Sipalay City, affecting 221 hectares of plantations owned by 208 farmers. The OPA reported losses worth PHP8.3 million.

The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. last month approved the coverage for new rice pests, such as the rice bug (waya-waya) and rice grain bug. Also covered are farms with losses due to calamities, and other pests.

In January, two cities in northern Negros also suffered the highest crop damage and production losses due to floods brought by monsoon rains.

Damage reached PHP5.05 million to rice and high-value commercial crop farms in the cities of Cadiz and Victorias, an OPA report also showed. (PNA)