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Philippines: Armyworms invade ‘onion capital’ Bayambang

In the town of Bayambang, the ‘onion capital’ of Pangasinan province, an invasion of armyworms is wreaking havoc on the onion crops. To combat the infestation, many farmers took out loans to pay the escalating costs of pesticides, racking up massive debts they have struggled to pay back.

Scientists have warned that crop-damaging pests will only become more destructive as climate change brings hotter weather and more unseasonable rains. In places like the Philippines, now unsustainable farming practices leave rural communities unable to adapt, prompting calls to shift to more innovative and greener farming.

Ryan Damaso, a coordinator at the farmers’ group MASIPAG, which focuses on sustainable farming, said the government needs to change its laws and support practices to promote agroecology, to create an agricultural system more in tune with nature.

In the Philippines, the armyworm was first reported in Pangasinan in 2016, when a major infestation ravaged over 1,000 hectares of land.


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