PCC staff members undergo training in Thailand

Three staff members of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) underwent a five-week training course on dairy processing and dairy plant operations in Thailand in preparation for the operation of the newly constructed dairy plant at PCC.

The training was held last September 26 to October 31.

The trainees were Mina P. Abella, Senior Research Specialist II in product processing; Venus C. Quines, Research assistant in product processing and marketing; and Benedick C. de Leon, electrician in equipment operation.

The putting up of a dairy plant is an integral component of the 2KR project titled “Enhancing Rural Employment through Promotion of Village-Based Dairy Enterprise.”
The dairy plant will serve as the central milk processing plant as well as market outlets of milk products among dairy farmers.

To expose the trainees on dairy processing and dairy plant operations, they underwent trainings on the different methods in the operation and maintenance of different dairy processing equipment, familiarization and utilization of the different laboratory techniques used in milk and milk products and technical know-how in operating a dairy plant at the different plants in different places in Thailand.

The plants visited included the Boonyakeat Ice Cream Co., Ltd in Muang, Petchaboon and Wangnamyen Dairy Cooperative, Ltd. in Wangsomboon, Sakeao.

“The training is very helpful for the upcoming operation of the PCC dairy plant considering that Thailand has really gone very far in the dairy industry,” Quines said.
She added, “The knowledge and skills learned from the training will be applied in the operation of the PCC Dairy Plant.”

The five-week training program also covered lectures and trainings on dairy plant operation dealing with milk collection and processing involving different equipment, quality assurance and quality control, product storage, and delivery.

Another ‘Hall of Fame’ award for PCC editorial consultant

Another feather has been added to the cap of Dr. Anselmo Roque as the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) bestowed on him a “Hall of Fame Award”.

He was cited for having won three times in the annual search for the PCARRD Professional Media Award (print category).

The awarding rites were held at the Dusit Thani Hotel last November 15 in connection with the 38th anniversary celebration of PCARRD.

The “Hall of Fame” trophy was signed by PCARRD executive director Patricio Faylon and Secretary Mario Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology.

Main part of the citation of the award reads:
“In recognition of his prolific contribution to the dissemination, popularization, and promotion of agricultural technologies of the Central Luzon Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium in print media. The high quality of his works earned him first place in print category of the Professional Media Award in 1997, 2000, and 2001, a feat that has set a precedence in the award, setting the standards for science journalism in the National Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Network”.

Dr. Roque, a correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is currently editorial consultant in the information services unit of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).

It was the third “Hall of Fame” award received by Dr. Roque in his writing career. The other two, one of which was given last April, were given by the Philippine Agricultural Journalists, Inc. for being an outstanding agricultural journalist in English and in Pilipino.

PCC scientists are PSAS awardees

Two scientists of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) bagged awards during the 47th Scientific Seminar and Annual Convention of the Philippine Society of Animal Science (PSAS) held last October 20-22 at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City.

Dr. Edwin C. Atabay’s paper on “Production of Nuclear Transfer Buffalo Embryos Using oocytes from ovaries stored at low temperature” was adjudged “Best Paper in Animal Biotechnology”.

Dr. Lerma C. Ocampo, on the other hand, won the “Best Scientific Poster”. She based her poster from her study titled “Ultra Rapid Vitrification of Germinal Vesicle Stage Bovine Oocytes by the Cryoloop Method”.

Dr. Atabay and Dr. Ocampo are senior science research specialists of PCC.

The convention, with the theme “Refocusing Animal RD&E towards the Changing Needs of the Industry”, highlighted the presentation of scientific papers and posters of various scientists and researchers.

The scientific studies were classified in different disciplines such as: anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, biotechnology, diseases and diagnostics, medicine and surgery, nutrition, production and processing, and socio-economics. A total of 44 scientific papers and five technical posters were presented during the seminar-convention.

The annual PSAS convention gives due recognition to the important contributions of scientists and their researches in the advancement of the animal industry, thus benefitting animal raisers and other industry stakeholders.

The PCC delegation, composed of 12 researchers, was lead by Dr. Eucrofina P. Atabay, PCC supervising senior science research specialist and also a council member of PSAS.

2010 National Biotechnology Week Celebration Aggie chief’s message is to ensure biosafety

The outputs of biotechnology and current researches that greatly influence people’s way of life at this modern age underscore the celebration of this year’s National Biotechnology Week (NBW) held at the SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City from November 22 to 28.

The event ensures continuing public awareness, education and understanding of biotechnology as an essential component of national development as stipulated in Presidential Proclamation No. 1414 declaring every last week of November of every year as “National Biotechnology Week”. This proclamation was signed by then President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo on November 9, 2010.

In the opening ceremonies held last November 22, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, who is also the 2010 NBW celebration chair, said that biotechnology is part of his advocacy in promoting modern yet eco-friendly technologies for the benefit of stakeholders in the agriculture sector.

“I will make sure that no agriculture products will reach the hands of our stakeholders unless they have passed biosafety standards. Biotechnology should provide opportunities to

stakeholders within the paramount objective of attaining safety and sustainable development,” Secretary Alcala said.
He also left a challenge to the Filipino biotech community: “Continue to spearhead the development and promotion of biotech products that are morally and socially acceptable—one that ensures the health and safety of humans, animals and the environment”.

Secretary Alcala’s co-chair is Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The weeklong celebration, which adopts last year’s theme “Bioteknolohiya para sa Kalikasan, Kalusugan, Kagandahan, Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran” with sub-theme “Ok ang 5K sa Biotech: Pagyamanin, Ito ay Atin!”, focused on the products of biotechnology that are showcased in the exhibits set up in the open areas of the Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center and IMAX 2/F.

Participating in the exhibit were the different government agencies that are implementing and carrying a biotechnology program, pharmaceutical companies and other private companies promoting their biotech products.

Various fora on biotechnology topics were also conducted. Other activities in the NBW celebration included the Jose G. Burgos Awards for Biotech Journalism, which gives due recognition to members of the media whose work particularly focus on biotechnology or those who have been “pushing the frontiers of scientific inquiry”.

With the purpose of promoting researches on biotechnology, public research institutions were encouraged to submit their entry to the “Technology Presentation Contest” where promising agricultural biotechnologies were promoted. The presentations highlighted the beneficial impact of biotechnology in improving agricultural productivity and increasing farmers’ income.

Winners of the technology contest will win Php100,000 for the first prize in the category “Best Technology Kiosk”, Php60,000 for the second prize and Php30,000 for the third prize. Winners for the category “Best Technology Presenter”, on the other hand, will receive a cash prize of Php50,000 for the first prize, Php30,000 for the second prize and Php10,000 for the third placer.

Film showing on the importance of biotechnology in nation-building was held toward the end of the celebration. This was organized for the public to have a popular knowledge on the many benefits that man get from the application of this science.

Hosted this year by the DA, through its Biotechnology Program Office headed by Dr. Candida B. Adalla, co-organizers of the celebration included the Departments of Education (DepEd), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Health (DOH), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Science and Technology (DOST), Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The event was sponsored by CropLife Philippines, Department of Agriculture-High Value Commercial Crops Program (DA-HVCC), Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred Philippines and the SM Mall of Asia.

KOICA, PCC to implement million-worth of livestock development project

The records of discussions (ROD) regarding the formal initiation of a US million grant-in-aid project on “Enhancing Livestock Sector Performance in the Philippines” of the Korean government, were signed by representatives of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) last November 5.

KOICA resident representative and implementation survey team leader Jinoh Kim and Agriculture Undersecretary for Special Concerns Bernadette Romulo-Puyat signed the ROD documents. Senator Francis Pangilinan and Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) executive director Dr. Libertado Cruz witnessed the signing ceremony.

The project, when finalized, will be jointly implemented by KOICA and the PCC.
The Philippine government’s counterpart to the project is the mobilization of resources and personnel. It will allocate funds for the delegation of technical personnel, equipment and materials.

The project, which will be implemented in a period of three years, aims to establish an institutionalized electronic data capture system that will hasten genetic data evaluation and analysis and create a unified web-based genetic information system.

It shall also intensify artificial insemination (AI) service and the use of embryo technologies that will aggressively enhance propagation of superior animals. This will be actualized through the improvement of the PCC National Bull Farm and Semen Laboratory in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija.

Cryobanking is another aspect that will be improved through the provision of equipment relevant to allow the conservation of selected livestock species that will sustain a long-term genetic improvement program.

Another component of the project is to enhance the competencies of PCC along the disciplines of breeding, genomics, bioinformatics, biotechnology and related fields by training scientists in advanced technologies in Korea.

Dr. Liza Battad, PCC chief for Planning and Special Projects, said that the signed ROD will be submitted to the KOICA headquarters in Seoul then returned to the Philippines for the final discussion on the details of the implementation plan with the KOICA technical team and the PCC.

Dr. Battad said that the project will be formally launched after the signing of the Note Verbales between the embassies of Korea and the Philippines, which is expected to be initiated before year-end.

She emphasized the complimentary effects of the project to the overall national genetic improvement program.

“By improving efficiencies and establishing a systematic performance evaluation, genetic gains will redound to the farmers’ level through increased milk production, animal holdings and, thus, family income,” she said.

“These effects may only be felt toward the end of the project but what remains important is the stream of outcomes supporting the local livestock industry development. These include, among others, generation of rural incomes, employment, and better rural family conditions,” she added.

KOICA is an agency of the government of Korea that extends assistance to developing countries through development cooperation efforts that carry the goals on achieving sustainable socio-economic development, poverty alleviation and promotion of humanitarian assistance and human security.

PCARRD, PCC conduct livestock biotech forum for media representatives

In response to the request of media representatives to have a deeper understanding on animal biotechnology research and development, a “Livestock Biotechnology Advocacy Forum for Media Representatives” was conducted at the SM Mall of Asia (SMA MOA) IMAX 2/F last November 22.

The said forum, which is one of the activities lined-up in the weeklong celebration of the National Biotechnology Week at the SM MOA from November 22-28, was sponsored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development-Livestock Development Division (PCARRD-LRD) and co-sponsored by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).

PCC executive director Dr. Libertado Cruz served as the resource speaker. His presentation focused on the potentials of livestock biotechnology in the Philippines, current applications of livestock biotechnology and future considerations on biotechnology application.
Dr. Cruz’ presentation underscored the importance of biotechnology in the social program of the government to help farmers earn additional income through livestock-based livelihoods.

Improving the genetics of swamp buffaloes to produce more milk through reproductive biotechniques as anchored in the national genetic improvement program is one of the steps of the government to realize this goal.
Dr. Cruz said that the Philippines spends about $720 million for imported meat and milk products abroad, making foreign farmers even richer and Filipino farmers in arrears.

Through advances in animal biotechnology research and development, livestock farmers are provided opportunities to earn more income out of owning genetically-improved animals that offer higher productivity.

However, application of biotechnology in agricultural production in the country is not yet fully adopted, which can be attributed to the lack of information dissemination about the technology, thus, the conduct of the advocacy forum.

In his message delivered by PCARRD-LRD director Dr. Edwin Villar, PCARRD executive director Dr. Patricio Faylon said, “In this modern time, it is most urgent to discuss, understand, promote and apply outputs of high-end research to be able to achieve significant improvements in livestock productivity in order to meet the increasing demand for livestock and poultry products.”

“I believe that a good understanding and appreciation of animal biotechnology by our media representatives would motivate them to promote modern biotechniques that will empower our animal raisers to shift from the traditional subsistence production system to profitable enterprises,” he added.

LRD assistant division head Dr. Synan Baguio said that the forum was organized to create a venue for media to interact with the guru of animal biotechnology in the Philippines and hopefully develop an informed opinion about the topic.
About a hundred media representative from various media outfits and the interested public participated in the said forum.

Senator Pangilinan is guest of honor

In a rare opportunity, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan graced a smallholder dairy carabao raisers’ forum in Nueva Ecija conducted at the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) National Headquarters and Gene Pool, in the Science City of Muñoz last November 5.

In his speech, Senator Pangilinan emphasized the importance of solving farmers’ issues relative to their actual progress and development.
“Hindi po natin kayang sugpuin ang kahirapan kung hindi natin haharapin ang mga problema sa sektor ng agrikultura. Pagsama-samahin po natin ang ating mga kakayahan upang sama-sama din po tayong umusad patungo sa tagumpay (We cannot alleviate poverty if we will not give our full attention in solving the problems in the agriculture sector. Let us altogether pool our efforts and capabilities so that we can achieve success as one),” Senator Pangilinan said.

He also said that ensuring the success of farmers is one key move for the development of agriculture in the country.
With the theme “Kalabaw ko, yaman ko…handog sa pamilya ko”, the forum was attended by about 200 carabao raisers.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Special Concerns Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) executive director Atty. Ronilo Beronio also graced the event with their active participation in the forum.
“The farmers’ forum was primarily conducted as a venue for smallholder dairy carabao raisers to freely discuss their issues and pressing concerns,” Wilma del Rosario, the PCC National Impact Zone program coordinator, said.

Also highlighted in the said forum were discussions on the questions raised by champion dairy carabao owners Engr. Jaime Ramos of Talavera, Marcelino Mislang of San Jose City and Belinda Parugrug of the Science City of Muñoz.

Ramos voiced out the concern of dairy farmers on putting the local dairy industry at risk of dissipation as the rates of duty on imported milk products will soon be eliminated as a result of schemes on ASEAN free trade.

He advocated for a stronger government support in protecting the stake of local dairy farmers in terms of extending the tariff that is currently imposed by the government at an equivalent of 1 to 3 percent of the value of imported dairy products.

“Sana ay ipagpatuloy ang tatlong porsiyentong buwis sa mga imported milk at milk products at sa halip na tanggalin ay gamitin na lamang ito para sa development ng local dairy industry lalo na sa infusion ng dairy animals (We are hoping that the current three percent tariff imposed on imported milk and milk products be continued and instead of eliminating, this tariff should be used for the development of the local dairy industry particularly in the infusion of dairy animals),” Ramos said.

“Hindi namin kayang lumaban sa mga malalaking kumpanya. Kailangan namin ng siguradong espasyo sa merkado para maipagpatuloy namin ang aming napiling hanap-buhay (We cannot compete with multi-million companies. We need an assured niche in the market for us to be able to survive with our chosen livelihood),” he added.

Senator Pangilinan responded positively to this concern. He pledged support to the appeal and promised to allocate funding for the dairy industry.

“Please submit a formal position paper on this and we will deal with it as soon as we can,” the Senator said.
Mislang, on the other hand, shared his experience during an educational tour in Thailand saying that its government was able to put in place a stable support system and marketing mechanism for its local dairy industry, thus ensuring profit for farmers in this sector. He said that farmers like him would be very grateful if the Philippine government can replicate such effort to support the Filipino dairy farmers.

He also shared the plan of his cooperative to implement a milk feeding program in Nueva Ecija that will ensure income for the dairy carabao farmers and good nutrition among school children.

USec Puyat said that DA Secretary Proceso Alcala will be informed of this move and that farmers can already count on the full support of the DA in this endeavor. She added that an inter-agency consultation will be scheduled among the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Trade and Industry to facilitate the implementation of the program.

Meanwhile, Parugrug, leader of a group of housewives who pinned new hope on the dairy buffalo, brought up the concern on how the government can help them have access to financing schemes. She said that access to soft loans would be a big help for the dairy farmers as funds are much needed to purchase facilities such as milking machine and to finance the marketing aspect of their production.
USec Puyat informed the farmers that there is Republic Act (RA) 10000 which provides for an agriculture and agrarian reform credit and financing system through banking institutions.

RA 10000, also known as “The Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009”, stipulates that all banking institutions should set aside at least 25 percent of their total loanable funds for agriculture and fisheries credit.
Through this scheme, USec Puyat added, farmers will have an equal access to opportunities that will maximize their productivity and thus sustain their economic growth.

Other questions raised during the farmers’ forum concerned rice seed subsidy, importation, regulating the price of palay and farmers’ access to postharvest facilities. They were aptly answered by Atty. Beronio and Deputy Director Arnel Apaga of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).