The Philippine Carabao Industry

The Philippine carabao, is a major contributor to the total agricultural economy of the country. Its main economic beneficiaries are the smallholder-farmers, who own 99% of this important animal resource. The volume of meat production from this sub-sector reached 140,034 metric tons in 2013, valued at PHP10.74 Billion at current prices (BAS, 2014). Meanwhile, milk production from carabao is estimated at 6.6 million liters in 2014 valued at PHP330 million (BAS, 2014). The larger contribution of the sub-sector was in terms of yield of major crop production, where carabao provided significant draft power requirement at an estimated value of PHP8.16 billion.

The Philippine carabao will continue to play a significant role in the country’s smallhold farming system for many years to come particularly in view of the dramatic decrease in the last couple of decades of land ownership above 2.0 ha, and the corresponding increase in land ownership below 1.0 ha. This development is attributed to the continuous decline in land available for cultivation due to increases in urban usage, as against increases in relative number of people in the rural villages. Under this scenario, there is a need to intensify crop-livestock integration maximizing the utilization of available biomass for producing food and increasing income. Water buffalo will definitely play a crucial role in such a sustainable crop-livestock integrated system.

However, in spite of such potential role, small hand tractors are increasingly replacing the carabao as a source of farm power, particularly in irrigated rice-producing areas. Given this development, the Philippine carabao is now being improved as potential source of meat and milk.

Population TrendsM

As of July 1, 2014, the population of carabao in the Philippines was 2.86 million head (BAS, 2014). In terms of regional distribution, Region 6 (Western Visayas) ranked first, accounting for about 10.98% of the total population. Other regions in the top five are: Region 4 (CALABARZON & MIMAROPA), Region 5 (Bicol Region), Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), and Region 8 (Eastern Visayas). These regions accounted for about 47.69% (1.36 million head) of the total carabao population. The carabao population growth pattern from 1991 to 2014 is characterized by a period of decline (1991–1994) and a period of erratic growth (1995–2014), i.e. increasing from 1994 to 1998, tapering off until 2000 then increasing again from 2001 to 2014 and tapering off from then on. The dramatic decline in population in 1991–1994 coincided with a clear rise in slaughter rate, pointing to an obvious direct cause and effect relationship between these two variables.

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