PCC distributes Italian dairy buffaloes to farmers

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) is releasing 980 dairy buffaloes to 34 pre-selected farmer-cooperatives and associations in various parts of Luzon.

According to Dr. Felomino V. Mamuad, PCC officer in charge, the buffaloes are part of the 1,252 Italian Mediterranean dairy buffaloes that PCC imported from Italy in November last year. They were selected from two dairy buffalo associations in the central and northern part of Italy, namely, the Associazione Esportatori Di Bestiame (AEBO) and Associazione Nazionale Allevatori Specie Bufalina (ANASB).

Twenty-two are bulls while the rest are heifers.

The herd arrived in the country in November and underwent the mandatory quarantine at PCC’s quarantine area in Lomboy, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija starting November 11 in compliance with existing animal health regulations.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) lifted the quarantine on January 24, giving the go-signal for the release of the animals.

Recipients of the animals are qualified small-hold farmers who are members of cooperatives and associations organized by the agency in 2009 and 2010. These prospective trustees have completed the necessary trainings and have complied with their required counterparts needed in carabao production, such as animal sheds, forage areas and guarantee fund.

The heifers will be distributed to the dairy cooperatives and associations, depending on the number of farmer-members of each group. Two-hundred fifty heads will be distributed to the regional centers of PCC as institutional herd. 

The bulls will be released to the National Bull Farm of PCC in Digdig, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija and PCC’s centers at Central Mindanao University (CMU) and University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB). These bulls will serve as semen donors in support to the agency’s continuing artificial insemination program.

The distribution started on Jan. 28 and is expected to be completed by April this year. 

PCC at CLSU, Muñoz LGU hold 1st Carabao Festival

To further promote and propagate the benefits in raising carabaos, the Philippine Carabao Center at the Central Luzon State University (PCC at CLSU), in collaboration with the Science City of Muñoz government, staged the 1st Carabao Festival on January 15.

 

The festival was held as part of the town’s commemoration of its 13th charter anniversary and 1st Uhay Festival: Ani ng Sining at Agham (Harvest of Art and Science).

 

“It was meant to promote deeper awareness on the benefits that the carabao can provide,” Dr. Edwin Atabay, PCC at CLSU director, explained.

 

“The carabao is not just a source of draft power but also of milk and meat,” he stressed.

 

He said PCC at CLSU coordinated closely with Muñoz Mayor Nestor Alvarez and Dr. Jerry Rigos, city and agricultural officer and OIC veterinarian, for the successful implementation of the festival.

 

During the day-long activity, which was held at the Muñoz Central School grounds, free milk feeding for children, a milk drinking contest, and the selection of the most beautiful and the heaviest carabao were held.

 

For the free milk feeding, about 200 elementary pupils of the Muñoz Central School were each provided with 200 ml of carabao milk in sachets.

 

On the other hand, the milk drinking competition saw the participation of a number of contestants who were bracketed at ages 7-12, 13-40 and 41-70 and above.

 

The winners romped off with cash prizes of Php1,000, Php500 and Php300 for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, respectively, under each bracket.

 

The festival highlight was the selection of the most beautiful carabao, with prizes of Php7,000, Php5,000 and Php3,000 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd placers, respectively.

 

Dr. Atabay said that the winning carabaos were judged on artistry (for the adornment), uniqueness, locomotion, body condition score, docility and their height while for the heaviest intact native carabao contest, estimated weight based on their heart girth was considered.

 

The winner of the most beautiful carabao was the entry of Melencio Ramirez of Barangay Bantug while Rick Tobias of Barangay Rizal won the first places for the heaviest award for his male and female carabao entries that weighed an estimated 943 and 1,051 pounds, respectively.

 

Dr. L.C. Cruz airs three hopes and prayers as he bows out as PCC executive director

“Would any country, even the developed ones, be able to invent a machine which, if fed with grass, would give you milk? Would there be any machine in the next century which, if fed with rice straw, would give you meat? This is the carabao we are talking about—a symbol of backwardness to most, but if given enough support would be a tool for progress.”

This was how Dr. Libertado C. Cruz re-echoed the encompassing inspiration that guided him through two decades of service as head of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), from its establishment in 1993 up to his official retirement on January 9, which marked his 65th birthday.

It also reflects his firm belief in the potential of carabao as a medium of addressing poverty alleviation, improved nutrition of the people, and employment opportunities.

In his remarks during a recognition program held in his honor by dairy farmers, PCC staff and various groups at the PCC national headquarters and gene pool in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, he expressed his thanks to “those closest to my heart, our bosses – the farmers and their cooperatives.”

“They are indeed the pillars of our carabao development program and I am much grateful to them,” he declared.

Cruz also took the opportunity to air three of his “most ardent hopes and prayers.”

“First, I hope and pray that the next leaders of PCC will sustain and bring the development even greater than what we have achieved. Second, I pray to be given a lot more courage because many people have told me that I should be ready to accept the fact that some people will be so different after retirement, the way they’ll treat me. Lastly, I pray that I’d be given enough courage to face a new chapter of my life. I think the past 20 years of service and working with the PCC’s staff and friends are very wonderful years. I hope that I can see equally another 20 years ahead of me,” he said.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you all very much,” he concluded, which was greeted by a thunderous applause by those who gathered for the event.

Held at the PCC Estrada Hall, the event featured a video production dedicated to the honoree. Titled “LIB LXV: In Honor of the Visionary”, it included spiels from his family, friends, and partners, including Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, former president and senator.

As then member of the Senate, Mayor Estrada was the main author of Republic Act No. 7307, which formally established the PCC.

“Sa inyong pagreretire, iiwanan mo bilang pamana sa ating bayan ang isang world class na facility para sa pangagalaga ng ating mga kalabaw (As you retire, you leave a legacy to our country a world class facility for the development of our carabaos),” he stated.

“Without the able leadership of Dr. Cruz, the success of the law creating PCC would not have been possible. As a Pro-Patria awardee for outstanding agricultural science, Dr. Cruz nurtured and developed the carabao’s institutional capability, and sustained research and development of the local carabao and cattle population. In doing so, he helped the farmers improve their livelihood by ensuring them a stable source of meat and milk. Indeed, Dr. Cruz’s numerous contributions to the body of knowledge in the field of animal reproduction have benefited not only our farmers and other scientists but Philippine society as a whole,” he added.

The video tribute underscored his being the educator and scientist from the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), where he was a professor, who was tapped to be PCC’s executive director.

As such, he operationalized PCC virtually from scratch and steered it as an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, to pursue its mandate “to conserve, propagate and promote the carabao as a source of milk, meat, draft power and hide to benefit the rural farming families.”

In looking back at his service at PCC, he is credited with the full operationalization of PCC and its network of 13 regional centers, and the institutionalization of the carabao development program, including the establishment of the National Impact Zone (NIZ) along with the Regional Impact Zones (RIZs).

Under this watch, the PCC also established a national gene pool, world-class research facilities, a network of extension facilities, and the establishment of a complex comprising national headquarters and various facilities.

Dr. Cruz has been given recognition in his various capacities and works as an administrator and animal scientist. Among others, he was bestowed the Pantas Award by DOST-PCARRD “for his pioneering work on in-vitro maturation/fertilization and embryo transfer (ET) in buffaloes, which resulted in the production of the first ET Murrah buffalo offspring from a Philippine carabao surrogate dam”; as an Outstanding Agricultural Scientist (Pro-Patria Award) by the Department of Agriculture and Office of the President “for the technology on improved estrus synchronization and AI using riverine buffalo semen in upgrading the Philippine carabao for meat and milk, and for developing the country’s institutional capability for sustained research and development in the local carabao and cattle population to help improve the livelihood of small-hold farmers”; as PSAS-InPhilco Distinguished Animal Scientist Award for “numerous contributions to the body of knowledge in the field of reproduction and for his professional attitudes that benefited other younger scientists and the society as a whole”.

Moreover, he was awarded as an academician by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), as Excellence Awardee for Research Administration by the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and as G. Zara Awardee for Applied Science by the Philippine Association for Advancement of Science and Technology.

In addition to the dairy farmers, farm workers, PCC employees and his family, guests from other DA livestock agencies, various local and foreign institutions, and colleagues from the academe joined him during the tribute.
Dr. Cruz, in subsequent message, said: “I will finish my unfinished job (in PCC), including the publication of books that will highlight the history and accomplishments of PCC in the last 20 years.”

Dairy farmers, various groups honor Dr. L.C. Cruz in recognition program

Farmer-members of 54 dairy cooperatives in Nueva Ecija province honored Dr. Libertado C. Cruz, who has retired from public service, during a recognition program held January 9 at the national headquarters and gene pool of the Philippine Caabao Center (PCC) in the Science City of Muñoz.

 

The coops are members of the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabao Cooperatives (NEFEDCCO), which is an assisted-group in PCC’s National Impact Zone (NIZ).

 

Cruz served as executive director of PCC from its inception in 1993 up until his 65th birthday, which marked his official retirement as a government employee.

 

Dubbed as “Pista sa Nayon: Papugay at Pasasalamat”, the tribute program was also attended by almost 50 representatives from various national government agencies, foreign development agencies and local government units.

 

The entities represented during the tribute were the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as well as the LGUs of Llanera and Talavera, Nueva Ecija, among others.

 

Florencio Collado, incumbent NEFEDCCO chair, described Cruz as “a humble and very dedicated leader.”

 

“The integrity, diplomacy and discipline of Dr. Cruz are worthy of emulation by about 3,000 dairy farmers currently assisted by PCC,” he added.

 

On the other hand, Mayor Lorna Mae Vero of Llanera town thanked Cruz for the dairy buffaloes provided to farmer-beneficiaries under PCC’s 25-cow modules, which have become an additional source of income for the farmers and their families.

 

“The Lord used you (Cruz) as an instrument to help ease the poverty of the people of Llanera,” she declared.

 

For her part, Director Brigida Pili of the DTI in Nueva Ecija, said: “Thank you Dr. Lib for embracing the mandate of DTI to foster the marketing activities of the dairy carabao stakeholders, and in pursuing and supporting the partnership between PCC and DTI on the holding of the ‘Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival’, which is now on its 8th year.”

 

Jocelyn Ramones, provincial agrarian reform officer in District I of the DAR in Nueva Ecija, described Dr. Cruz as “a boss who is easy to contact and transact with.”

 

Dr. Surendra Ranjhan, a former Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) chief technical adviser in the United Nations Development Program and considered as one of the outstanding pillars in the creation and operation of PCC, praised Cruz as being “much liked here and abroad in the field of carabao research and development.”

 

“He will never retire. He will work globally with us, with our ASEAN buffalo association, with our world buffalo congress and associations because he is very much liked and contributed significantly not only in the Philippines but globally,” he stressed.

 

In response, Dr. Cruz said he was “overwhelmed by the show of support, appreciation and love from our partner-farmers, their leaders, LGU officials and the PCC staff.”

 

He recognized the key role of the NEFEDCCO officials, directors and staff in serving as the strong base of the cooperatives in the province and for the federation as a whole. He also hailed the LGUs for their strong support in the implementation of the carabao development program in their respective localities.

 

To the PCC staff, Dr. Cruz said: “Thank you for helping us for the last 20 years in delivering the agency’s mandate.”

 

He expressed recognition for the hard work of the PCC team in making the agency “a prominent center on buffalo research and development in the world map.”

 

At the same time, Dr. Cruz expressed appreciation to his spouse, Teresita Cruz, “for understanding my work and allowing our family to understand me as well.”

 

He concluded his farewell remarks by saying: “I thank the Lord for an opportunity to be able to share the last 20 years of my life in the service

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