Spectral measurement in onion infected with Anthracnose-Twister.
Image credit: Central Luzon State University
Onion, garlic farmers rely on smart tools vs pest infestations
(The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Farmers from Nueva Ecija and neighboring onion- and garlic-growing provinces have something to look forward to to protect their crop and prevent widespread occurrence of pests and diseases.

By applying information and communication (ICT) tools and techniques, interventions can be implemented ahead of time, thus preventing huge losses.

An ongoing project, “Surveillance, detection, and mapping of leaf miner and anthracnose-twister diseases in onion and garlic,” works on a comprehensive approach to keenly observe, investigate, and map the presence of such diseases in specific sites of the province.

The approach includes preventive measures, management strategies, and service centers to assist farmers.

Disease surveillance is being carried out not by human scouting, which is usually inaccurate, expensive and time-consuming. Instead, the project used computer-based tools and software, remotely sensed data, unmanned aerial vehicle and satellite imageries, spectral signatures of infestations in onions at different phenological stages, meteorological data, and other data from existing reliable providers.

The Central Luzon State University is conducting the project in cooperation with the Regional Crop Protection Center of the Department of Agriculture in Region 3.

Funded by the Department of Science and Technology, the project started in July 2018 and is expected to be completed in September 2020. 

The project has generated maps of leaf miner infestation in onion in Nueva Ecija from December 2018 to January 2019.

Reports submitted to PCAARRD show that all municipalities were affected except for Lupao. 

The highest leaf miner infestation was recorded in Rizal with an area of 185.45 hectares or 14.31 percent  of the 1,295.87 hectare area planted. The lowest infestation was recorded in the municipalities of Aliaga, Talavera, and Pantabangan.

Early detection and mapping of the diseases enabled concerned offices to implement necessary measures to avoid the further spread of diseases. 

The team also distributed information, education, and communication materials on integrated pest management of onion and  provided advisory services and technical briefing to onion farmers in 12 municipalities.

It also designed and developed a webpage, which will house the outputs of the project.

When complete, the project is seen to result in the establishment of a plant hospital and a pest and disease surveillance and research center.

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