PRESENT at the official opening of the country’s first Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases were (L-R) the center’s Project Leader Virginia M. Venturina, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, and Central Luzon State University President Edgar A. Orden.

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has launched the country’s first Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (CenTrAD) in Central Luzon State University (CLSU) worth P234 million.

The center will focus on the emergency management of transboundary animal diseases through surveillance, detection, mapping, diagnosis, analysis, prevention and control, following international standards.

During the inauguration ceremony on June 11, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar pointed out that African Swine Fever (ASF) nearly wiped out the country’s hog industry in 2019.

“Let us learn from ASF. We cannot anymore put our animal industry at risk like that. We have to have a mindset that another outbreak can always come anytime like the ASF, so we must be prepared,” he said.

CenTrAD will also serve as the country’s “premier hub for animal health innovation,” focusing on accelerating the development of vaccines against transboundary and emerging animal diseases.

Mr. Dar also recommended other strategies in operationalizing CenTrAD, which include building a network of partners involving other academic and scientific institutions to expand human capital; putting up a fellowship program for various research activities; and establishing adjunct scientist appointments, comprised of willing and able retired experts and scientists within and outside the university.

The center also has P90 million worth of cutting-edge equipment to provide “timely, rapid, and accurate disease reporting to institute early response from detection to containment.”

CenTrAD is a joint project between the DA through its Bureau of Animal Industry and the CLSU.

Major academic partners of CLSU in the implementation of CenTrAD include Cavite State University, Central Bicol State University, Central Mindanao University, Isabela State University, Visayas State University, Tarlac State University, Cagayan State University, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, and Pampanga State Agricultural University. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson