DA beefs up labs for animal diseases

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) will adopt an integrated laboratory masterplan to improve the country’s laboratory network system in its continuing fight against agricultural diseases affecting the country, including the African swine fever (ASF), avian influenza, foot and mouth disease, panama disease and fall armyworm.

    “We are adopting an integrated one DA 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 under Department Order No. 1, Series of 2021.

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

    It will also involve the formulation of policies and approaches to either construct new ones or upgrade existing national laboratories of the Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Soils and Water Management, regional animal disease diagnostic laboratory, feed chemical analysis laboratory, regional crop protection center and regional soils laboratory.

    The plan also 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 masterplan was proposed by the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering after consultations with concerned national laboratories, bureaus and regional field offices with the assistance of the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

    “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,” Dar said.