The Department of Agriculture Bicol inaugurates today the P100 million Integrated Laboratory Division complex a state- of- the art, one stop- shop facility which offers plant, animal, pest, feed and food diagnostic, testing and other laboratory services.

Four major DA Laboratories which used to be located in different sites will now be housed in the 4 interconnected 2-storey buildings in a quadrangle -like formation. These laboratories are : The Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RADDL), Regional Soils Laboratory (RSL), Regional Feed Chemical Analysis Laboratory (RAFCL) Regional Crop Protection Center – Plant Diagnostic Laboratory (RCPC-PDL).

‘’We are committed to provide quality, accurate, and science- based results on agricultural laboratory analyses as we are also aiming and preparing for ISO for Quality Management System Accreditation, says DA –Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla . “These buildings are just one aspect of it. We have also allocated budget for the procurement of the-state-of the art equipment and facilities and we are putting the right and best people to perform the tasks and make these facilities function efficiently and effectively,” he adds. As with the other infrastructures now being constructed within the DA compound Tornilla explains that this is aligned with the DA’s thrust of modernizing agriculture.

This integration and strengthening of our laboratory network system is also in line with the “ONE-DA” Masterplan being pushed by Secretary William D. Dar to help prime our national and regional laboratory services to tighten biosafety and bio security measures against infectious plant and animal diseases such as the African Swine Fever (ASF) in hogs, Avian Influenza in poultry, Foot- and-Mouth disease in livestock, Fall army Worm in corn among others.

The new complex is located inside the 71- hectare DA compound in this municipality . The proposal for this complex was initially crafted three years ago by then RCPC Head, Dr. Evangeline de la Trinidad upon the prodding of then RED Abelardo Bragas and then RTD Elena de los Santos and RTD Rodel Tornilla. Construction began during the term of Rosita Imperial as ILD chief until the term of Tirso Perlas.

The ILD which is composed of about 40 staff and personnel is now headed by Dr. Rona Bernales who is also the head of the RADDL which used to be based in Camalig, Albay. The RADDL offers laboratory services for livestock which include parasitology, pathology, serology, virology, microbiology and molecular biology tests. RADL also conduct s ASF diagnosis using Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RTY-PCR) . It also uses Fluorescent Antibody Test for Rabies.

Meanwhile, the Regional Soils Laboratory which used to be based in Naga City is now headed by Mary Elizabeth S. Banda. It conducts soil testing and recommends tentative fertilizer usage in major food crops; conducts physical/chemical analysis and conducts quality test of soil ,water, fertilizer, compost, animal wastes, plant tissue samples and other ameliorants. It also provides technical assistance to researchers, field technicians, students and other individuals, and LGU’s on proper land husbandry and promotes Soil Testing Program using Soil Test Kits.

The Regional Feed Chemical Analysis Laboratory headed by Coren Holly G. Martinez on the other hand conducts laboratory and chemicals analyses for determining quality and nutritive value and determining trace minerals of feeds and feed ingredients; conducts aflatoxin analyses for feed ingredients, feed formulation and corn samples for corn quality monitoring and food safety.

For its part the Regional Crop Production Center-Plant Health Clinic headed by Giovanni Valenciano focuses on plant disease diagnosis, plant pest identification, and control.

The simple inauguration ceremonies was attended only by selected DA employees. This is part of the month-long celebration of the Farmer’s and Fisherfolk month. (Emily B. Bordado/DA-RAFIS -5 /photo credit- Eduardo Collantes jr. & Zandra Abogado)