To provide the agri-fishery sector with access to cutting-edge technologies that can accurately detect and effectively manage, control and contain emerging animal diseases, the Department of Agriculture (DA), signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU), in Magalang, Pampanga, on August 8, 2020.

“The launch of this project is both timely and relevant, as it marks a new milestone in our efforts to boost our capacity to accurately detect and effectively manage emerging animal diseases, including that of transboundary diseases, here in Central Luzon and nearby regions,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar during the MOA signing.

“Supporting this project can help us in a big way in the future. Let us tap the best of molecular science and all biotechnology tools available for the very problems we have in the country. Let us not waste time,” the DA chief added.

The project, “DNA Analysis for Accurate Diagnosis of Emerging Deadly Viruses among Agri-fisheries of Central Luzon,” with P6.4 million funding coming from the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), is expected to provide information that can be used by drug manufacturing industries to build custom design vaccines that specifically target the viral strains present in a locale.

Using reverse transcription-reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and DNA sequencing, the project will determine the true-to-type species or genotypes on the causative agent of emerging deadly viruses including African Swine Fever (ASF), New Castle Disease, avian flu, tilapia lake virus, and white spot syndrome virus, measure disease occurrence, reduction, and severity, as well as analyze their transmission.

Commending PSAU’s significant contributions in managing the problem in ASF in Central Luzon, Secretary Dar challenged the university, in its pursuit to continually develop and enhance its capacities in research and development.

The secretary cited the value of providing scientists with the necessary equipment and tools to address the very problems that the agri-fishery sector is facing.

He instructed DA-BAR and PSAU to re-assess the availability and capacities of various animal disease diagnostics research facilities in effectively addressing and managing diseases not only in livestock but also in fisheries.

“Enhance your capacity through this existing facility because we need to start working now for that potential pandemic that may come from zoonotic animal diseases. If you have the best minds, the younger generation who has the right training, then you are ready and we shall be able to solve any problems along with those issues of transboundary animal diseases,” he said. (DA-BAR and DA StratComms)

For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture or DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).