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DA sets up integrated laboratories vs. animal, plant diseases

Author: DA Communications Group | 20 January 2021

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is strengthening its laboratory network system in its continuing fight against infectious diseases such as African Swine Fever (ASF) in hogs, avian influenza (AI) in poultry, foot and mouth disease (FMD) in livestock, Panama disease in banana, and fall armyworm (FAW) in corn and onion, among others.

“We are adopting an integrated ‘OneDA’ laboratory masterplan that incorporates international bio-risk management standards and best practices on biosafety and biosecurity measures, regulations, and certifications,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar, as contained in Department Order No. 1, Series of 2021, on January 5, 2021.

The ‘OneDA’ masterplan was proposed by the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) after consultations with concerned DA national laboratories, bureaus, and regional field offices (RFOs), through the assistance of the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Secretary Dar said the plan will help prime the country’s national and regional laboratory services to tighten biosafety and biosecurity measures against plant and animal diseases, including smuggling

“This comes at an opportune time when we are elevating our concerted response against the ASF with the vigorous implementation of ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay’ (BABay ASF) Program, that actively involves local government units (LGUs), the private sector and veterinary groups in disease detection, control, and prevention, and subsequent hog repopulation. With these laboratories, we are confident that we will win this time around,” he added.

The plan calls for the formulation of policies and approaches to either construct new ones or upgrade existing national laboratories of the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

It also includes the integrated laboratories of the DA-RFOs such as the regional animal disease diagnostic laboratory (RADDL), feed chemical analysis laboratory (FCAL), regional crop protection center (RCPC), and regional soils laboratory (RSL).

The plan further outlines key steps for making local laboratories compliant with international bio-risk management standards and best practices, such as provision and review of plans, design requirements, standards, and technical specifications.

The DA-BAI will provide technical guidance on the planning and programming of all RADDLs and FCALs, while the DA-BPI on RCPCs, and the DA-BSWM on RSLs.

The plan also serves as the basis for the construction and renovation of DA laboratories, incorporating standards set under the respective national building, electrical, “green building,” and sanitation codes.

Tasked to provide overall guidance on the project is DA undersecretary for regulations Zamzamin Ampatuan.

Last year, Secretary Dar hammered a proactive stance against emerging plant and animal diseases when he led the launch of the RADDL in Paraiso, Tarlac, committing to connect it with other DA laboratories to ably protect the country’s livestock and poultry sector.

“With these integrated ‘OneDA’ laboratories and ‘Bantay ASF ‘ program, we are confident that we can successfully manage, prevent and control ASF, and hopefully put an end to the most dreaded disease that has paralyzed the country’s billion-peso hog industry for more than a year now, and continues to threaten its demise,” the DA chief concluded. ### (Frances Mae Ramos-DA StratComms)

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