Rats on a Rice Diet

Plague Rats Destroying Rice Crops in the Highlands of Tabanan

RadarBali.com reports that thousands of square meters of cultivated rice in the traditional rice terrace in the Village of Angseri at Baturiti in Tabanan Regency have been destroyed by a plague of rodents.

The attack by voracious rats has been underway since mid-April when the destroyed crops were first reported to the Tabanan Agricultural Service.

Agricultural extension officers say the rice that was attacked had been planted two months earlier before being denuded by packs of rats.

The agricultural community of Subak Tegah has 80 hectares under cultivation – 60 hectares of which is planted in irrigated rice with the remaining land dedicated to vegetable produce.

An agricultural official estimates one hectare of land has been destroyed by the marauding rodents.

As an initial remedial step, Farmers have been asked to undertake sanitation and hygiene measures, including removing trash from irrigation channels. Farmers are also being provided poisonous compounds with which to kill the invaders.

But, in accordance with local tradition, before any steps to eradicate the rats can be undertaken Hindu religious ceremonies must first be performed seeking divine permission to kill the rodents.

If measure of better hygiene and poisoning fail to adequately reduce the rat population, only then can hunts be organized to kill the rodents. Hunts to capture and kill the rats, however, by tradition, can only be done after the harvest is completed.