Baguio, Philippines - A 2,000 year old rice terraces carved out from 4,000 square miles of rolling terrain by a cultural minority group in Northern Philippines is now in danger of being ruined completely due to relentless attack by giant worms brought about by severe drought.
Infestation of the famous rice terraces have contributed immensely to the deterioration of the popular tourist attraction after the Philippines summer capital was severely hit by El Nino-induced summer heat. Earthworms have plagued the terraces since the 1980s but up to now, experts have not yet discovered a way to contain the infestation without compromising the environment.
“The problem of the (giant earthworms) at the terraces has been there for a long time. We have not realized the extent of their devastation until now,” said Ifugao Gov. Teddy Baguilat. The giant earthworms burrows into the walls of the terraces to seek relief from the severe el nino-induced summer heat.
The Banaue Rice Terraces is known in the Philippines as the 'Eight Wonder of the World' and has been drawing thousands of tourists from around the world for its magnificent beauty and the constantly cool temperature in the province where it is located.
Officials in the province are worried that the severe heat and infestation in the mountain rice terraces will discourage rice farmers from planting the crop and maintaining the earth structures of the terraces. A state of calamity was this week declared for the Banaue area that is home to many of the ancient stone-walled paddies and one of the Southeast Asian nation's most popular tourist destinations, the officials said.
"Not all areas are affected, but if this will continue until next month they won't be able to plant anything anymore," the Governor said of the other terraces in Ifugao. He said it was the worst dry spell he could remember in the area since another El Nino-induced drought in 1998.
(original article appeared @ Digital Journal )