PCC launches book on “Appreciating the Carabao”

An 82-page book focusing on the native swamp buffalo and on-going efforts to improve its
genetics is now on sale at the Knowledge Resource Management Center or the Information
Unit of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

Availability of “Appreciating the Carabao”, written by development journalist Anselmo
Roque, followed its official launching last March 26 during the celebration marking PCC’s 17th
anniversary at the agency’s headquarters.

The book was presented by the author to Agriculture Undersecretary Salvador S. Salacup,
who represented Agriculture Secretary Bernie G. Fondevilla as guest of honor and keynote

Roque, who holds a Ph.D. degree in Development Education and who has already authored
10 books, is currently a correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a national

He explained that “Appreciating the Carabao” attempts “to give readers fuller understanding
of the many aspects in the life of the water buffalo, and the research and development
efforts being spearheaded by PCC to upgrade its status to one that is better than what it
was previously known for.”

The native swamp buffalo, often referred to as a “beast of burden” and a “mainstay of
Philippine agriculture”, is now a symbol of increased incomes for many small-hold farming
families through the establishment of carabao-based enterprises in the country.
This is the outcome of PCC’s National Carabao Development Program, which includes the
utilization of reproductive biotechnologies to improve the genetic potentials of the carabao
as source of milk and meat, aside from draft power.

PCC hails top performers on its 17th year

Top-performing entities in the National Carabao Development Program were honored
by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) during a program held in observance of its
17th founding anniversary last March 26 at the PCC Headquarters in the Science City
of Munoz, Nueva Ecija.

William A. Gudoy, a laboratory aide at PCC at Mariano Marcos State University
(MMSU) in Batac, Ilocos Norte was cited as PCC’s 2010 Most Outstanding Employee
“for his exemplary performance of duties and responsibilities contributory to the
overall success of the Carabao Development Program, particularly the Expanded
Artificial Insemination Program of PCC at MMSU, for his enthusiasm and commitment
to work demonstrated by his ability to exhibit professionalism in all tasks he is
assigned to do, and for his loyalty to the Agency and to the country as a model
public servant.”

Salvador A. Tobias, a member of the Simula ng Panibagong Bukas Primary Multi-
Purpose Cooperative (SIPBUPCO) in Porais, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, was given
the Best Dairy Buffalo Farmer award in the family module category. He was
recognized for “the excellent management he has shown for his dairy herd and for
the involvement of his family in the continuing progress of his dairy farm.”
SIPBUPCO was awarded as this year’s Best Dairy Cooperative in recognition of “its
outstanding ability to productively manage the cooperative, exhibited by the
members’ cooperativism and good management practices applied to the dairy
buffaloes in their care and promotion of a dairy enterprise.”

On the other hand, Pablo S. Nazar of the Kilusang Bayan sa Pagpapaunlad ng
Talavera Cooperative in San Ricardo, Talavera, was chosen as the best dairy buffalo
farmer in the small-hold category “for being a model member of the cooperative,
promoting the benefits of establishing a buffalo-based dairy enterprise.”

Special awards were also given to the Best Dairy Cows. The winners were Cow
5UP05005 (junior category) and Cow 2LS98205 (senior category). A crossbred with
75 percent Murrah blood, the best junior cow is 4.5 years old and was born in the
institutional farm of PCC at University of the Philippines-Los Banos (UPLB). At its
peak of lactation period, the cow produced about 8.6 kilograms of milk daily within
55 days. The best senior cow, on the other hand, is a 12-year old purebred Bulgarian
buffalo, which was born in Gabas, Baybay, Leyte and is owned by Gregorio Cueco, a
small-hold dairy farmer. The buffalo has already given birth six times and has an
average calving interval of 14 months. Both dairy cows were selected based on their
exceptional dairy-type trait characteristics, mammary system and milk yield, as well
as good body conformation.

Best-performing village-based artificial insemination (AI) technicians (VBAITs)
nationwide were likewise recognized during the anniversary program. VBAITs are the
main implementers of PCC’s Expanded Artificial Insemination Project, which is being
implemented in collaboration with local government units. The VBAITs undergo
intensive hands-on training provided by PCC prior to deployment in their respective

PCC vet is ‘Most Outstanding Veterinarian in Government Service’

Dr. Claro N. Mingala, PCC’s R&D coordinator and animal health expert, was awarded recently the “Most Oustanding Veterinarian in Government Service” by the Philippine Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA).

The award was given during the 77th PVMA Annual Convention and Scientific Conference held last February 18 at the Villa Caceres Hotel in Naga City.

Dr. Mingala was recognized for his “significant contribution to government service as the head of Animal Health Unit and national research and development coordinator of the Philippine Carabao Center”.

His active participation and membership to numerous professional, government and scientific organizations were likewise recognized.

Dr. Mingala earned his Doctor of Veterinary Science and Medicine (DVSM) and Master of Veterinary Studies (MVSt) degrees at the Central Luzon State University under the CSC MS-Local Scholarship Program. He completed his PhD degree, major in infectious diseases at the Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine in Hokkaido University, Japan, under the Monbukagakusho (Japanese Government) Scholarship Grant.

He specialized in the field of large ruminant immunology, epidemiology and virology and his main research areas are on bubaline cytokine expressions and immune responses, including viral diseases and hemoprotozoon of large ruminants.

Dr. Mingala authored and co-authored scientific papers which were published in diverse international scientific journals. Among these papers were about Cytokine, Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Research in Veterinary Science, Basic Microbiology, Tropical Animal Health and Production, Acta Tropica and the Infection and Genetics and Evolution.

He is also an active member of the Philippine Veterinary Medical Association, the Philippine Society of Animal Science, the Philippine College of Ruminant Practitioners, the Nueva Ecija Veterinary Medical Association and the Society for the Advancement of Veterinary Education and Research.

Dr. Mingala was adjudged as an awardee based on the following criteria: contribution to the government (75%), length of service (5%), position (5%), trainings/post graduate (5%), and membership to NGO’s contribution (10%) together with supporting documents and endorsements from fellow veterinarians.

2,000 Riverine-type Murrah Buffaloes from Brazil

2,000 Riverine-type Murrah Buffaloes from Brazil
A total of 2,000 Murrah buffaloes from Brazil, which was imported by the Philippine government, arrived last January.
With the infusion of these breed of buffaloes in the country, more smallhold farmers will gain additional income and more farming families will be benefited with greater access to better nutrition.

The Lahore Resolution: A call for Asian governments to give priority on buffalo development

Livestock research and development scientists across the world called on governments in the Asian region to give livestock development, specifically on water buffalo, high priority in their national development agenda.

This call was voiced out in the 2009 Lahore Resolution, which was drafted during the 6th Asian Buffalo Congress (ABC) held last October 27-30, 2009 in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.

Twenty-five countries participated in the ABC. There were over 1,000 attendees composed of scientists and experts, industry stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and students across the globe.

Water buffaloes, both the riverine and swamp types, are recognized worldwide as important domestic animals owing to their immense contribution as means of livelihood for millions of smallhold farmers.

Asia has an enormous population of buffaloes at 96 percent or 160 million of the world’s total buffalo population of 176 million. Consequently, a substantial 90 million tons of milk and three million tons of meat in the region are supplied by this popular domestic animal.

Domestic buffaloes, the 2009 Lahore Resolution stated, usher in a significant input to the national gross domestic product (GDP) of most countries in Asia.

Considering all of these, the 2009 Lahore Resolution urged governments in the region to optimize the potential of the water buffalo as an important source of milk and meat, among other value-added buffalo-based products.

Among others, it said, Asian countries should strengthen their R&D programs that are focused on increasing the productivity per animal.

Such programs, the Resolution further stated, give special emphasis on the socio-economic advantage of small-scale farmers on the grassroot level.

It was also entreated in the Resolution to promote and strengthen public-private sector partnerships with the aim of integrating the chain from the end of the producer to the consumer.

Asian Buffalo Association (ABA) president Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha, in one of the ABC’s press releases, said that the public and private sectors are essential components in the development of the water buffalo industry through the provision of technical support to farming communities.

The exchange of knowledge and industry experiences among scientists in the water buffalo industry was the objective envisioned in the 6th ABC as it adopted the theme “Buffalo: Prospective Animal for Milk and Meat Enterprise”.

This event was seen by the ABA as instrumental to the continuing efforts to promote sustainable buffalo development in the Asian scenario.

Dr. Libertado C. Cruz, former president of the International Buffalo Federation and ABA, said the ABC is the appropriate and significant venue to foster collaborative efforts among and between countries with interest on buffalo development.

“There is a growing interest among South East Asian countries with swamp buffalo type to introduce the riverine buffalo’s genes to their animals to improve milk and meat production, taking the lessons from the Philippine experience,” Dr. Cruz, who is executive director of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), said.

Pakistan has a large breeding population of dairy buffaloes logged at 32 million, majority of which are of Nili Ravi breed.

Buffalo plays an integral part of the country’s livestock agriculture. It is home to the world’s best breed of animals with outstanding productivity level reaching 36 liters of milk per day.

Collaborative efforts of the ABA, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), Livestock and Dairy Development Department of Punjab, and the government of Punjab pulled off the successful organization of the 6th ABC. The holding of a congress by the ABA is considered a mega event in the buffalo industry.

The previous ABC was held in Nanning, China in April 2006. The Philippines also hosted the event in October 1996.

Gov’t pursues clean health certification

The Philippines is poised to be declared as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)-free this year by an international body. This anticipated international recognition is seen to advance the global competitiveness of the country in trade and animal health terms.

Documents to support this proposition have been submitted in January last year to the World Organization for Animal Health or Office International des Epizooties (OIE) to declare Luzon to be FMD-free. The documents are strong enough to earn the coveted declaration that the country is FMD-free.

Luzon, according to officials of the Bureau of Animal Industry, is the only remaining zone in the country that has not yet been certified as FMD-free without vaccination. Areas vying for the certification are composed of Region I (Ilocos Region), the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Region II (Cagayan Valley), Region IV-B (Mimaropa) and Region V (Bicol Region).

Totally eradicating the contagious animal virus in Luzon marks the last phase of the National Program to Control and Eradicate FMD in the Philippines after almost 15 years of battle against it.

In the OIE certification, it can declare any country as FMD-free in the following categories: FMD-free where vaccination is not practiced, FMD-free where vaccination is practiced, with FMD-free zone(s) where vaccination is not practiced and with FMD-free zone(s) where vaccination is practiced.

Currently, the Philippines is one of the 10 countries in the list of the OIE with FMD-free zones where vaccination is not practiced particularly in the Mindanao and Visayas-Palawan-Masbate areas. They were internationally recognized in 2001 and 2002, respectively, per Resolution No. 19 of the OIE’s 77th general session last year.

Also in the official list, 64 countries are FMD-free where vaccination is not practiced, one country is FMD-free where vaccination is practiced, and five have FMD-free zones where vaccination is practiced.

The BAI-National FMD Task Force (NFMDTF) pursued aggressive moves to upgrade the status of Luzon to become FMD-free through progressive zoning approach for disease monitoring and surveillance, staging a strong public awareness campaign, and a systematic animal movement control.

Collaboration with local government units also greatly improved and private sectors, such as slaughterhouse owners, were involved in the massive campaign against FMD.

The creation of a compliance monitoring team (CMT), which started with the National Meat Inspection Service in 2003, helped prevent the spread of the disease by confiscating and condemning infected animals. Slaughterhouses and stockyards in Metro Manila are also continuously monitored.

Progressive zoning approach resulted in the declaration of Regions I, CAR (except Benguet), Region III (Aurora) as FMD-free zones with vaccination in December 2005 while provinces of Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac, Cavite, Rizal and Quezon were classified as protected areas. The declaration was made by then Agriculture Secretary Domingo F. Panganiban.

As a stringent measure to follow-through the government’s aim for Luzon to finally seize an FMD-free certification without vaccination status, Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap in June last year ordered through Administrative Order No. 12 the withdrawal of vaccination against FMD in the Philippines.
Cessation of FMD vaccination in Luzon, inventory of all available FMD vaccines in the country, movement management of both FMD susceptible animals and unvaccinated FMD susceptible animals, and the institutionalization of standard shipping protocol were ordered for immediate compliance and implementation last year.
Relative to this order, the NFMDTF conducted routine and risk-based surveillance system in complementation with clinical monitoring and negative monitoring. This was meant to ensure that the withdrawal procedure was not endangered with the circulation of the FMD virus.

Moves were also taken to ensure that stakeholders are properly informed and consulted.

DA reports showed that the livestock sector lost an estimated P2 billion to the FMD during its outbreak in 1995.

Efforts of the government to succeed on its FMD eradication program supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is expected to gain pay off as it succeeds to obtain the certification this year as an FMD-free country where vaccination is not practiced.

PCC ties up with Hokkaido University Research Center for Zoonosis Control

The Hokkaido University Research Center for Zoonosis Control based in Kita-ku, Sapporo, Japan and the Philippine Carabao Center recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to mutually pursue academic, educational and research cooperation associated with public health microbiology, emerging and re-emerging diseases, zoonoses and other related areas in health sciences.

The MOU was signed by Dr. Hiroshi Kida, Director of Hokkaido University; Dr. Yashuhiko Zusuki, Professor of the Department of Global Epidemiology, Hokkaido University; Dr. Libertado C. Cruz, Executive Director of PCC and Dr. Felomino G. Mamuad, Deputy Executive Director last December 5, 2009.

The MOU, which shall take effect for a period of three years, shall develop and implement activities in the areas of exchange of researchers and students, plan and implement collaborative research projects, provide lectures and symposia, exchange in technology-related information and relevant materials and promote other academic cooperation as maybe further and mutually agreed.

Dr. Cruz said that this MOU is another milestone in scientific research collaboration especially with a developed and world-class institution such as the Hokkaido University.

The Research Center for Zoonosis Control in Hokkaido University was established to address concerns on recent emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases worldwide such as SARS, Nipah, Hanta, Hendra, influenza, Ebola virus infections, pneumonic plague and leptospirosis.

It focuses on conducting global surveillance in identifying natural host animals and elucidates the routes by which the pathogens transmit from one animal to another, including humans.

Dr. Cruz said that this cooperation is important in improving human and public health concerns.

Advances in animal biotechnology taken up in PCC-sponsored international seminar.

Many Asian countries have harnessed biotechnology in their desire to hasten development in their livestock industries.

This, essentially, was the major concern taken up during the “International Seminar on Advances in Biotechnology Applicable to Animal Research and Industry” held at the Imperial Palace Suites in Quezon City last November 9.

The seminar was sponsored and organized by PCC in cooperation with the Livestock Development Council, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), DA-Biotechnology Program, and the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

The seminar was a take-off initiative in recognition of the livestock industry’s significant contribution in Philippine agriculture.

Based on the figures of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the livestock sub-sector has recorded a production value of P180 billion in 2008 and the carabao industry pitched the highest growth rate at 11.83 percent in 2007 to 2008, followed closely by hog and cattle industries.

Animal identification technology and product traceability system, marker-assisted selection, DNA-based screening for genetic defects in livestock, and the prospects of embryonic stem cells in livestock development were discussed.

Representatives from the academe, core of biotech scientists, as well as key industry players, attended the day-long seminar.

OIC director Felix Valenzuela of the Livestock Development Council (LDC) gave an overview of the livestock industry in the Philippines and Dr. Eufrocina P. Atabay discussed the program of PCC on current and future research directions on biotechnology.

The resource speakers were Korea’s National Institute of Animal Science scientist Dr. Seung-Soo Lee, South Korea’s Sunchon National University professor Dr. Kang-Seok Seo, Taiwan Livestock Research Institute’s breeding and genetics expert Dr. Ming-Che Wu, and California Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland research scientist Dr. Candice Ginn T. Tahimic.

PCC executive director Dr. Libertado Cruz said that it is important to set sight on considering technologies or systems on traceability as it is already a requirement in the foreign market with “sophisticated” consuming public as the Philippines considers meat export as a potential growth area.

He added that local producers need to consider market requirements on traceability of importing countries to penetrate and be competitive in the meat export industry globally.

Product traceability, Dr. Cruz said, gives consumers assurance on the origin of the products they buy. He added that this is possible by tracing the source of meat through its DNA. Thus, consumers are assured that meat products in the market are safe and screened for quality.

The participants, during the open forum, agreed in unison that this vision of PCC is truly attainable especially now that consumers are becoming wise and selective in their choice of meat products.

DNA-based marker also takes a significant role in aiding genetic improvement in animals. Specific markers are identified for establishing breed purity, pedigree verification, genetic diversity, and component traits associated with milk and meat production, among others.

Biotechnology is likewise a potent tool in genetic defects screening, Dr. Cruz said. “There are many genetic defects in livestock. DNA-based screening eliminates the case of spreading diseases from breeder stocks,” he added.

Dr. Cruz said that this is one important technology that will help breeders determine which animals should be propagated. “It also has important bearing on the fact that the Philippines imports genetic materials,” he added.

In closing, the PCC executive director said, “We are happily collaborating with agencies and the academe concerning livestock research and development. This endeavor gives a perspective on how biotechnology can be applicable to animal industry.”

PCC forges partnership on buffalo research with UVAS in Pakistan

Joint research and development works for buffalo improvement and other disciplines are the major undertakings agreed upon recently by the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) based in Syed Abdual Qadir Jillani road, Lahore, Pakistan and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).

PCC executive director Dr. Libertado Cruz and UVAS chancellor Dr. Muhammad Nawaz signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) last October 27 during Dr. Cruz’ official visit in Pakistan.

The program cover areas such as exchange of specialists and fellows, sharing of scientific materials, publications and information; and conduct of joint research as well as development projects related to buffalo and other disciplines.

Dr. Cruz said that UVAS pursues a strong research effort on animal health specifically in developing vaccines that are DNA-based.

UVAS also has Nili-Ravi breeds, one of the Murrah breed types of Indian buffalo, and several other breeds.

“UVAS is willing to make germplasm of this breed accessible to PCC,” Dr. Cruz said.

The MOU will be further extended into future projects such as the setting up of collaboration with Pakistan’s Buffalo Research Institute. This institute is mandated by its government to carry out a program on research-based buffalo development.

Another future project will be on embryo collection from elite female buffaloes with the hope that frozen embryos will be brought to the Philippines for propagation.

“Ultimately, this collaboration will redound to our advantage,” Dr. Cruz said.

He also said that this linkage with the UVAS is a big boost for PCC in making its way as the Philippines’ leading institute for livestock research and development and as a world-class research facility for buffalo improvement.