PILI, Camarines Sur, July 30 (PNA) -- Agricultural extension workers (AEWs) in Bicol are now equipped with skills that strengthen their capabilities in the implementation of livestock programs particularly in the control of farm animal diseases.
“We have a total of 227 agri-extension workers deployed in all the six provinces, seven cities and 105 municipalities in the region who have recently completed a retooling course in Agri-Pinoy Livestock Program which updated them on the latest trends in livestock production,” DA regional executive director Jose Dayao over the week, said.
The retooling course was undertaken by the DA to enhance the knowledge and skills of these workers on the advocacy, prevention and control of economically important diseases (EIDs) as part of the intensified agricultural productivity initiative of the Aquino administration under the agriculture department’s Agri-Pinoy program, Dayao said.
The course improved their skills on the proper procedures and techniques in handling animal blood and fecal specimen for examination and updated them on existing policies and legal mandates on feeds, drugs, biologics and animal welfare, he said.
It is under the Agri-Pinoy Livestock Program and Economically Important Diseases that this retooling course was held.
AEWs, Dayao said, play an important role in farm productivity as they are in the frontline of the government’s implementation of various programs and projects for the peasant sector that is why the DA is making it sure that they are highly capable of meeting the challenges in the field.
“Being constantly in contact with the farmers, these workers serve as the DA’s main link with the former even as they are directly under local governments being devolved personnel,” he said.
Although under Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, agricultural extension workers were devolved to local government units (LGUs), the DA remains in constant communication with them and continuously updating and training them on new technologies and programs to improve their capabilities, Dayao said.
It is also imperative, according to the DA regional chief that AEWs are updated on the emerging EIDs like hemorrhagic septicemia, rabies, hog cholera, new castle disease and fasciolosis so that they are familiar with these diseases and equipped with know how in its prevention to avoid any outbreak.
Other diseases discussed in the training were surra, foot and mouth disease (FMD) and avian influenza. The AEWs were also updated on the quarantine rules and regulatory programs of the region.
Other topics included precautions in handling affected animals and specimens; collection and handling of specimens for laboratory examination; actual sampling and collection of specimens at the abattoir and hands-on collection of laboratory samples from poultry that is important to ensure accurate test results.
Participants were also provided with the animal health personnel field manual which will serve as reference or practical guide in the monitoring and surveillance in disease control and management.
Although Bicol livestock farms are not confronted with serious problems in livestock diseases, Dayao said it is important that AEWs are trained in handling possible problems to avoid massive impacts should unwelcome occurrences take place.
“We need to be ready to face any eventuality in Bicol’s livestock sector that serves as a big contributor in the region’s agricultural productivity, food sufficiency and income to farmers,” Dayao said adding that the livestock population in the area runs at an average of nearly 18 million yearly.
As of last year, he said the cattle population in the region was estimated at 100,000; carabao, 300,000; goat, 250,000; hog, 1.5 million; and poultry, 15 million.
He said it is not however only on livestock disease prevention and control that AEWs in Bicol are being made to undergo retooling courses but also on other agricultural commodities that ensures them right information and the latest technologies that in turn should be disseminated to farmers. (PNA) CTB/LQ/DOC/cbd/rsm