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DA to refurbish labs vs. animal, plant diseases

The Department of Agriculture seeks to intensify its laboratory network system strengthening its fight against infectious diseases through the “OneDA” master plan.

“We are adopting an integrated ‘OneDA’ laboratory master plan that incorporates international bio-risk management standards and best practices on biosafety and biosecurity measures, regulations, and certifications,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement yesterday.

DA said the master plan was proposed by the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering division after consultations with concerned government national laboratories, bureaus, and regional field offices, through the assistance of the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

The industry is struggling with the threats of 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.

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’ program, that actively involves local government units, 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 said.

The DA said the master 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, Bureau of Plant Industry, and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

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

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

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

“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,” Dar said.

On Tuesday, the DA announced that the country has been declared by the World Organization for Animal Health as free of any A(H5N6) strain of Avian Influenza or bird flu.

Around 37 provinces in 11 regions here have been affected by the outbreak.*PNA

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