Joint ARBS and PSAS confab underscore advantages of biotechnique applications; PH livestock industry seen to foster

Efficient utilization and application of biotechnology hold promise of increased production, food security, improved human and animal health, conservation of animal genetic resources, and reduced negative environmental impact.

This was the key message brought out in the joint 9th Asian Reproductive Biotechnology Society (ARBS) Annual Conference and 49th Scientific Seminar and Annual Convention of the Philippine Society of Animal Science (PSAS) held last October 23-28 at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong City.

Mr. Kazuyuki Tsurumi, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative to the Philippines, aptly said: “Application of new technologies, specifically biotechnology, is needed to address economic upturn locally and globally.”

Supporting this statement, Dr. Libertado Cruz, executive director of the Philippine Carabao Center, reiterated that Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) in animals such as the widely-used artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer (ET) have become important tools for enhanced genetic improvement allowing production of productive and efficient farm animals. Dr. Cruz was one of the plenary speakers during the conference.

Other important biotechniques which Dr. Cruz pointed out in his talk were the use of semen cryopreservation and semen-sexing which are vital to the development of AI. On the other hand, he added, ET, aided by several techniques such as hormone manipulation of ovarian function, in vitro embryo production and cryopreservation, ovum pick-up (OPU), and embryo micromanipulation, has become the platform of many other ARTS such as cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) and transgenesis.

It will be recalled that the Philippine Carabao Center, under Administrative Order No. 09 of the Department of Agriculture, was designated as the lead agency to hasten genetic improvement program in ruminants using reproductive and gene-based biotechniques. As such, it continuously carries out research endeavours with support from local governments and international partners.
As a result of the agency’s research undertakings, the Philippines’ efforts on improving livestock production, particularly Carabao, have been constantly gaining headways thru the utilization of available biotechniques such as ET and AI for improved animal husbandry. They, in turn, result in improved livelihood of many rural farming families in the country.

Meanwhile, as a venue for interactive exchange of scientific interests of the reproductive biotechnology community throughout Asia, the ARBS members presented their respective studies, both in human and animals, using biotechniques.

Among the studies presented were “Advances in mammalian egg activation and development”, “Biomedical basis and regulation of sperm capacitation and motility in vitro”, “Factors affecting meiotic arrest in mammalian oocytes” , “Development of frozen buffalo semen production system in the Philippines”, and many others. These researches were tackled thru the scientific sessions during the conference.

“With these significant research findings that can be applied in many developing countries, the challenge, therefore, is how to fully take advantage of the potentials of biotechnology in increasing domestic animal production and reduce importations while constantly mitigating climate change,” Dr. Cruz concluded.

The other highlights in the joint conference were the presentation of technical papers and scientific posters, handing of awards for the ARBS best poster and PSAS best papers and posters, and the conferment of awards to outstanding local scientists and veterinarians.

World Food Day Celebration highlights role of agricultural cooperatives in ending hunger

The Department of Agriculture (DA) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), affirms its support in eradicating hunger worldwide through achieving its mandate of increasing productivity and income of farmers and fisherfolks.

This was emphasized by assistant secretary for Fisheries/Agribusiness Marketing Salvador Salacup in his message during the opening ceremony of the 2012 World Food Day celebration at the Department of Agriculture’s Central Office in Diliman, Quezon City.

The event which ran from October 15-18 was part of the annual observation of World Food Day in commemoration of the founding anniversary of the FAO, organized 67 years ago.

The event adopted the theme, “Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World”, highlighting the role of cooperatives in improving food security and its contribution in ending hunger.

“The implementation of our agricultural programs is more efficiently handled by our stakeholders who are most especially part of cooperatives. Through that, we build unity, gain strength and achieve efficiency of deliverables to attain our mandate of food security, food affordability, and nutritious food,” Asec.Salacup said.

“If we have a good plan and sound roadmap of all agricultural commodities, then the implementation becomes easy,” he added.

Asec. Salacup served as the chairperson of the national steering committee for the said celebration.

The weeklong celebration started with the ribbon-cutting of its product exhibit at the DA-OS lobby. The ceremony was led by agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala, joined by FAO representative Kazuyuki Tsurumi and ASec. Salacup.

A photo-essay exhibit of DA-assisted farmers’ groups and cooperatives and national commodity programs were also featured.

As part of the WFD celebration, the opening day of its mini-tiangge where partner-farmers’ cooperatives can showcase and sell their respective products was also initiated. The tiangge runs until October 18.

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) was one of the product exhibitors. It featured dairy products from the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabao Cooperatives (NEFEDCCO) and from its other partner cooperatives.

An on-the-spot poster making contest that depicted this year’s theme commenced on the second day of the celebration at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in Quezon City. Seventeen regional winners participated in the event.

The winners will be presented during the culminating program on October 18 at 4 to 6 pm. The ceremonies will be held at Liwasang Aurora, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City.

Along with the WFD celebration, the DA also spearheaded the celebration of the International World Rural Women’s day in partnership with the Philippine Commission of Women and other institutions.

The conduct of the search for the outstanding rural women has been the highlight of the celebration since 2003. The winners will be honored during the WFD culminating program.

Alcala will be joined by FAO representative Tsurumi and Luiza Carvalho, UN resident coordinator and United Nations Development Programme resident representative.

KC Concepcion was invited to give an inspirational message. She serves as the Philippine’s Ambassador Against Hunger of the United Nation’s World Food Programme’.

The program will be capped with a candle lighting ceremony and reading of the 2012 World Food Day Pledge and fireworks.

Dairy coop officers undergo training in leadership

In any organization, sound leadership spells the successful implementation of its mandate. Good governance in small units of a community is as imperative as it is in nation building.

This proves to be the guiding principle of PCC through the National Impact Zone (NIZ) team in coordinating cooperative governance, leadership and values education training among its partner farmer-cooperatives.

The training courses are conducted in compliance to Rule 7 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9520 otherwise known as the Philippine Cooperative Development Act, to address the issues on inadequate resources of cooperatives and limited number of accredited training providers.

“It is our commitment to equip and prepare our partner cooperatives to become responsible. They should be empowered to manage their enterprise. Each member has a duty to perform,” said Wilma Del Rosario, Agriculturist II and NIZ technical staff.

The said training courses include basic cooperative course, cooperative management and governance, financial management, policy development, and leadership and value re-orientation.

Each cooperative chairman and members of board of directors is required to attend the training course to understand the leader’s role in agricultural development particularly in cooperative management.

The capability enhancement activities will be conducted in six batches covering two major training courses as mandated by RA 9520 such as cooperative governance, leadership and values education.

Last September 26-27, the first batch has already undergone capability building and training at the PCC. The other batches of participants are expected to finish by the end of November.

The training participants were taught on strategies on how to effectively perform what is expected and required of them in the organization.

“By providing these capability building trainings, PCC will be able to meet the minimum requirements to be an Accredited Cooperative Training Provider as set by the Cooperative Development Authority,” Del Rosario said.

9th Asian Reproductive Biotechnology Society conference to take place in Manila

Several scientists, scholars, extension workers, and policy-makers across the globe will convene in the Philippines for the 9th Asian Reproductive Biotechnology Society (ARBS) conference slated from October 23 to October 28 at Edsa Shangri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila.

The conference will underscore the great promises that biotechnology offers in addressing the emerging issues on food, health, and biodiversity. It will also highlight the various efforts and innovations that are continuously being undertaken in countries where participants will come from.

Scientific papers to be presented are researches and innovations in embryo development, advances in the production of frozen buffalo semen, advances in in vitro and in vivo development of vitrified mammalian oocytes and embryos, advances in Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), and cloning techniques, among others.

The participating countries include the Czech Republic, India, Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, USA, Australia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates.

With the wide-range of research results to be presented from various countries, the conference will serve as an important venue for public awareness about the vital role of biotechnology, both in humans and animals, in improving food security, health, and biodiversity.

The conference also aims to encourage more young scientists to engage in reproductive biotechnology researches, highlight the recent advancements in the different areas of reproductive biotechnologies, and the technological developments in increasing the productivity and profitability of livestock.

It is also expected to produce opportunities for collaborative research and business activities among scientists, students, and practitioners across the Asian region.

The event is organized by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program (DA-Biotech), and the Philippine Society of Animal Science (PSAS). The conference coincides with the holding of the 49th Annual PSAS Convention.

PCC farmer-partners conduct actual field visits to further improve dairy buffalo production

A dynamic information exchange and capacitation through actual learning experiences is currently adopted by the PCC Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Team (PMET) as a strategy to improve the operations of cooperatives in the National Impact Zone.

This was done through a series of “Lakbay-Aral” in selected areas across Luzon.

This initiative of the PCC NIZ is seen to support a more vibrant carabao industry imbued with strong cooperatives.

The NIZ team said that the “Lakbay-Aral” aimed to expose the PCC farmer-partners to the current developments in the carabao industry such as improved production management systems and business opportunities outside the typical workplace of the cooperatives.

Ang General Trias Dairy Raisers MPC, sa tulong ng kanilang plant manager at vice-chairman, ay nagbahagi sa amin kung paano sila nagsimula at umunlad sa negosyo ng paggagatas ng kalabaw. Bagama’t maraming balakid katulad ng paghahanap ng merkado para sa gatas ay hindi sila sumuko. Sa kasalukuyan, mayroon na silang outlets maging sa mga karati-bayan at unti-unti na ring nakikilala ang kanilang mga produkto,” Gerard F. Delos Santos, Casile Farmer Dairy Cooperative Chairman, said.

The “Lakbay-Aral” was participated by select 45 PMET members who were evaluated by the NIZ team based on their performance and active involvement in the activities of their respective cooperatives.

Cooperative leaders, members of the board of directors and village-based artificial insemination technicians (VBAITs) were mostly the ones who were to participate in the activity.

The first batch of farmers who joined the educational field trip last September 19-21 visited Bulacan Dairy Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MPC), Sta. Maria Dairy Farmers MPC, Department of Agriculture (DA)-Agricultural Training Institute, DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research, DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management, and Mapinia Crossbred Cooperative in Magalang, Pampanga.

The second batch which was mainly joined by cooperative chairpersons went to Hacienda Macalauan in Laguna, University of the Philippines-Los Baños (Biotech, Institute of Plant Breeding, and National Crop Protection Center), General Trias Dairy Raisers MPC and Tagaytay beef and carabeef market.

The on-site field visit also included lecture-discussions and actual demonstrations of animal-production related activities.

Each was assigned a team leader who will consolidate all the learnings and observations that the group was able to encounter. This report is then processed among the team members.

The participants are expected to re-echo their learnings to the other members of their cooperative during regular meetings.

The rest of the “Lakbay-Aral” series are expected to be completed until the second week of November.

San Agustin, Isabela showcases upgraded carabaos in ‘Nuang Festival’

Arnulfo Butac, 67, of Barangay Nemmatan in San Agustin Isabela, has been into crossbred buffalo production for 10 years now and considers his animals as his family’s only means of livelihood.

Butac currently has six crossbreds. He harnesses these animals either for milk production or draft animal power during the harvesting of corn in the town. He earns an average income of about P150,000 annually.

He is one of the hundreds of dairy buffalo farmers who paraded in the streets of San Agustin with their crossbred carabaos during the town’s celebration of the 8th Nuang Festival and in commemoration of its 63rd year of township last September 28.

Butac’s crossbred buffalo was also one of the animals that were used as canvas for the festival’s newest come-on for tourists—the carabao painting contest.

The festival also highlighted various contests for the selection of the “Best Buffalo in Milk Production”, “Best Dairy Buffalo”, “Best Draft”, and “Best Dressed Buffalo”. A buffalo race was also staged to the delight of the spectators.

Municipal agriculturist Julio Lamug said about 300 crossbreds were paraded this year which were fewer than in previous years. The fewer number was due to the ongoing harvesting in the corn fields since most corn farmers in this region still chooses to use the carabao for hauling to save from high fuel cost, he said.

Each paraded crossbred was rewarded a cash incentive of P200 from the LGU. Some of the town’s barangays also gave a counterpart incentive of another P100 for each animal.

Mayor Virgilio Padilla was proud of what his town had so far achieved in terms of its contribution in the carabao upgrading program which is implemented by the PCC.

“Through the concerted efforts of the PCC and our local government unit, San Agustin is now hailed as the ‘Crossbred Capital of Isabela’. We have substantially placed all our efforts toward establishing a hefty base of dairy buffalos on the ground and now we are into ensuring that the enterprise development aspect of the program will also be embraced by our farmers,” Mayor Padilla said.

He added that San Agustin is girding to be a model town for dairy enterprise development and this lofty goal is not a far-fetched prospect because of the staunch support of the town’s farmers to the program.

Governor Faustino Dy III and vice governor Rodolfo Albano III also graced the event with their presence.

In an exclusive interview with the PCC team, Gov. Dy III said the provincial government of Isabela, thru his stewardship, will not cease in pouring in investments in San Agustin for as long as its vision to becoming a full-pledged hub for carabao’s milk production in the province is realized.

“We have witnessed the importance of the carabao to our farmers and in poverty alleviation in general. Our leadership is focused on maximizing the potential of our carabao resource in the province to benefit our farmers,” Gov. Dy III said.

It can be recalled that the governor contributed Php 5 million last year for the strengthening of the carabao development program in San Agustin. The amount was used for the construction of four milk barns in the town.

Dy said, he has committed to Mayor Padilla the establishment of more barns as more farmers showed great interest in the dairying business of San Agustin.

The provincial government also allocated some Php 2 million to support the expanded artificial insemination program and animal health services not only in San Agustin but in other towns and cities in Isabela.

San Agustin currently has some 2,000 crossbreds in the hands of smallholder farmers. This big number is the tangible output of nearly three decades of carabao upgrading program in this part of Cagayan Valley region.

PCC participates in PSAS Regional Livestock Convention in Cagayan

The Philippine Society of Animal Science (PSAS)-Cagayan Valley Chapter recently catalyzed stronger ties not only among its members in Region II but in the whole North and Central Luzon clusters in the PSAS Regional Livestock Convention and Outreach Program themed “Social Entrepreneurship Amidst Climate Change” last September 27-28 at the University of La Salette, Santiago City, Isabela.

To carry out the aim of PSAS to promote and enhance the animal industry in the country, it conducts lecture series and outreach programs in different parts of the country in preparation for its annual national convention.

“Climate change is undoubtedly the most devastating environmental problem of our time. Our country now belongs to the top 10 of the most vulnerable countries in climate change. Hence, PSAS members choose one clear pathway to reduce poverty alleviation and food security without compromising the environment and that is social entrepreneurship. We can build social entrepreneurship by developing animal enterprise with real social and environment consciousness and impact,” William C. Medrano, PSAS President and CHED Commissioner said.

The upcoming 49th PSAS national annual convention will be held jointly with the Asian Reproductive Biotechnology Society (ARBS) Conference through the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) as the host agency on October 23-28, 2012 at the Edsa Shangri-la, Mandaluyong City.

All these regular activities serve as the venue for the members to meet and exchange information, experiences and recognize those who have exemplary contributions to veterinary science.

This year’s lecture series honoree is Dr. Arturo Calud who also gave a talk on the Philippine swine and poultry industry entitled: “The Philippine Swine and Poultry Industry…the Challenges We Face Today.”

Dr. Eric P. Palacpac, PCC National R&D coordinator, represented PCC executive director Dr. Libertado C. Cruz during the convention.

Dr. Palacpac emphasized the efforts of PCC at Cagayan State University (CSU) Dir. Franklin T. Rellin with the support of Isabela governor Faustino “Bogie” Dy, III in hailing San Agustin as the potential “Dairy Capital of Cagayan Valley.”

“The Philippine Carabao Center is modeling community development efforts with emphasis on enterprise development which is very much consistent with the convention’s theme and outreach program. In San Agustin, Isabela, “Home of the Nuang Festival”, we are endeavoring to develop a village-based dairy enterprise anchored on the crossbred buffaloes which is a latent resource in the hands of our farmers,” said Dr. Palacpac.

The participants devoted their last day of the convention by witnessing the 8th Nuang Festival in San Agustin.