The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is strengthening its laboratory network system in its continuing fight against infectious animal diseases.

“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.

Dar’s statement is contained in DA Department Order (DO) No. 1, Series of 2021, on January 5, 2021.

The DO was issued amid the persistence of African Swine Fever (ASF) in hogs, foot and mouth disease (FMD) in livestock, Panama disease in banana, and Fall Armyworm (FAW) in corn and onion, among others, as well as the threat of avian influenza (AI) in poultry.  

Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar (Department of Agriculture – Philippines / FACEBOOK / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

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.

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

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.

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

Source: Manila Bulletin (