Rural broadcasters convene for better appreciation of biotechnology

A joint undertaking of the Philippine Federation of Rural Broadcasters (PFRB) and the Biotechnology Program Office of the Department of Agriculture which aimed to give countryside communicators a better understanding of the concepts and applications of biotechnology was held at the PCC headquarters last November 14-16.

Some 60 rural program hosts and announcers from government, private, and community or town-level radio stations from Luzon participated in the conference including information officers from different government agencies.

Biotechnology experts and development communication specialists from the PCC, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) served as the discussants.

DA undersecretary for Policy, Planning, Research and Development and Regulations Segfredo Serrano served as the keynote speaker.

He clearly emphasized in his message that “biotechnology is not just an option but the government’s proactive action to address the concerns of the future”.

He said that as a country, the Philippines “ambitions to be competitive and food secure” and that we have the right resources “to be able to claim our rightful place among the other great nations of the world.”

While the DA promotes harnessing biotechnology toward food sufficiency, he said “the food must be safe, nutritious, and delicious.”

Otherwise, he added, our efforts to increase production and investment on inputs would be useless.

“We have a risk assessment system that screens if our food imports are genetically modified or not. We must take full responsibility in ensuring that the food that we produce are safe to the environment, safe for the production system, and safe for the consumers. It has to pass an acceptable level of safety,”USec. Serrano said.

His message clearly emphasized that biotechnology is not something to be feared.
“It is science, predictability, and objectivity that will win,” he said.

One of the organizers of the event, DZMM’s “Sa Kabukiran” program host Louie Tabing said the conference was purposively done toward achieving better appreciation of the concepts and applications of biotechnology and its related issues among the rural broadcasters.

The envisioned goal was for the participants to be capable of translating information on biotechnology in the simplest form among their radio listeners. This, he said, will only be realized thru constant communication with the experts and the concerned agencies.

He added that the “meeting was also an occasion for renewing acquaintances and revitalizing camaraderie among the rural media practitioners as well as working relationship between communicators and the science community.”

The second day of the conference was devoted for the discussion of organization matters and projects that included effective program material distribution and program exchange system; prospective scholarship or foreign training for members; group insurance coverage scheme; and other means to help the PFRB members.

The same activity for the rural broadcasters in Visayas and Mindanao is scheduled on November 20-21 at the Crowne Regency Residences in Cebu. About 60 community broadcasting practitioners are expected to attend.

Milka Krem opens to the public, offers fresh and natural buffalo milk-based dairy products

PCC recently opened a door of opportunities to dairy farmers thru the launching of a market venue called “Milka Krem” for their milk produce.

This is where the milk produce from the dairy cooperatives will be sold after being processed at the state-of the-art central milk collecting and processing facility.

Essentially, the Milka Krem is an infrastructure support for dairy farmers. It is an avenue to empower smallholder farmers as they are provided with an opportunity to have an access to the commercial market for greater income.

The Milka Krem carries the tagline “Fresh and Natural” which is anchored on products development thru science-based practices.

The raw milk that is processed every day comes from healthy animals that are well-managed and cared by smallholder dairy farmers. These dairy animals are fed with naturally-grown forage and feeds that guarantee their sound diet essential for the production of fresh milk.

Prior to processing and packaging, the freshly harvested milk is pasteurized to preserve the high level of health-promoting substances such as anti-cancer properties naturally inherent in buffalo milk.

Buffalo milk is high in milk solids and protein content making it very suitable for dairy product processing.

Milka Krem’s flagship products are coffee concoctions that are all milk-based, mozzarella di buffala cheese, kesong puti, premium ice cream, yogurt, and pastillas de leche.

The Milka Krem fosters an advocacy that “in every satisfied patron of the dairy products is a satisfied need of a smallholder dairy farmer in the rural community.”

The establishment of the facility is a component of the Php200 million-worth 2KR grant assistance for underprivileged farmers from the Japan government.

This is under the project “Enhancing Rural Employment thru Promotion of Village-based Dairy Enterprises” being implemented by PCC which aims, among others, to capacitate the family members, including women, as agri-entrepreneurs using dairying as a medium.

The Milka Krem is strategically located along Maharlika Highway, just beside the PCC headquarters.

PCC’s outstanding VBAIT is 2012 Gawad Saka awardee

FRANCISCO ALEX DANI PASION, PCC’s “Outstanding Village-based Artificial Insemination Technician (VBAIT)” for 2012 is also this year’s “Outstanding Large Animal Raiser” in the national Gawad Saka awards of the Department of Agriculture.

Twenty-four other farmers and institutions in the agriculture and fisheries sectors were carefully selected for this year’s “Outstanding Achievers in Agriculture and Fisheries”. The awarding ceremonies were held last November 13 in time for PhilRice’s launching of 2013 as the National Year of Rice (NYR) at its central experiment station in Maligaya, Nueva Ecija.

DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala led the awarding ceremonies. He also read a message from President Benigno Aquino III extending his words of felicitations to the DA family and to all the Gawad Saka awardees whom he regards as “role models and movers of society”.

Pasion, 44, of Marcos, Ilocos Norte, said that he and his family are very happy with the new blessing. He said he already gains fulfillment with the positive feedbacks that he gets from his neighbors and supporters on how he does his job as a buffalo raiser but to win an award is giving his work more meaning.

Passion was hailed by the search committee for his “passion” to upgrade his skills and knowledge on the best technologies in animal raising so that he can be a better servant in his community.

He also showcased his commitment in buffalo raising by actively engaging in activities that will support the government’s program to boost the local dairy industry.

Passion is raising six dairy buffaloes, three of which are currently in their lactating period. He also fulfills a social obligation by providing his neighbors a means of generating income by sending his eight buffaloes for “paiwi”.

Aside from his active engagement in dairying, he is also serving some 600 farmer-raisers of both carabao and cattle as AI technician in the municipalities of Marcos, Dingras, Banna, and Sarrat. With these services, he posted an average calf drop efficiency of 40 percent.

Pasion is a virtual champion VBAIT for effectively demonstrating a best practice on 100 percent monitoring of all the carabaos that he inseminated and for posting a steadily increasing number of AI services.

He is currently the chairman of the Ilocano Artificial Inseminators Credit Cooperative (ILAICC) with over 35 members.

Passion received his plaque and cash prize of Php150,000 with his wife Hortencia in the presence of some 500 guests in the occasion.

He said he will use his cash prize, including the Php30,000 that he received as the regional winner, to purchase more dairy buffaloes and augment his land area for forage production.

Another recipient of the Gawad Saka award, Arthur Tabbu, is also an advocate of the Carabao Development Program thru championing a carabao-based enterprise in the Cagayan region. Tabbu is this year’s “Outstanding Agri-Entrepreneur”.

He is the general manager of the Lighthouse Cooperative, Inc. based in Tuguegarao City and the manufacturer of the popular label Carne Ybanag that offers a variety of processed carabao’s meat recipes such as longganisa, tocino, and tapa. The coop is also the maker of the equally popular “Chicharabao” or crackling made of carabao’s skin.

With the numerous recognitions that both Pasion and Tabbu have received, they are living testimonies of how the carabao has become not only a mere source of income but empowerment among smallholders and their families.