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Nearly $100K Awarded to NMC CREES to Advance Alternative Plant Medicines for Livestock (March 26, 2008)

The Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service (CREES) was recently awarded a grant totaling $97,074 to fund a project that advances alternative plant medicines to improve livestock health in the Pacific region.

Entitled “Technology Transfer of Alternative Plant Medicines for Livestock HealthCare in the Western Pacific,” the project is led by Dr. Allan Sabaldica, DVM, who works as an animal scientist and extension specialist for CREES.

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Sabaldica and his team at CREES,” NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez said. “The project he’s leading will go a long way in promoting not only alternative animal health practices for the CNMI, but also regional collaboration in agricultural sustainability.”

The highly competitive grant is administered by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE), which is a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that aims to support farm and ranch systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities. Other jurisdictions that are part of the WSARE that also received grant funds included Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Guam, Colorado and Nevada; however, the CNMI received the highest amount.

According to the Dr. Sabaldica, the advancement of alternative plant medicine was necessitated the region’s shortage of animal health experts, strict restrictions on traditional livestock drug usage, food safety concerns, language variations, cultural differences, geographical locations, and loss in indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants for most Western Pacific extension professionals and producers.

“Alternative plant medicine is considered as highly recommended, economical, and environmentally friendly,” Sabaldica said. “It is clear that it will complement sustainable organic farming and improve animal health, and inevitably, human health.”

The project has three phases. The first objective involves medicinal plant training for paravets, extension staff, local and federal field officers, farmers and producers in the CNMI, Guam, Palau, FSM and the Marshall Islands. It will also involve a “Train the Trainers” program that will impart Asian technology transfer on plant medicinal applications and preparations for livestock healthcare to the Western Pacific.

The second phase and objective will involve the production and distribution of sustainable educational materials in different native languages. These materials will include manuals, posters, cd database, and videos/DVD of the available medicinal plants.

The final phase entails conducting workshops in the CNMI, Guam, Palau, FSM, and the Marshall Islands to disseminate and share gained knowledge with government agencies and the community within the Western Pacific.

“In addition to the increase in the quality of animal life and human life,” Dr. Sabaldica added, “the project aims to increase the profitability in livestock operation, increase the number of in healthful products and available organic foods, and decrease antibiotic residue and other food safety concerns.”

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