PCC staff, dairy farmers take part in international conference on agribusiness and cooperatives

Selected staff of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) whose work functions are related to business and cooperatives and five chairmen of dairy cooperatives in PCC’s National Impact Zone (NIZ) participated in the Joint International Conference on Agribusiness and Cooperatives held October 14-17 in Davao City.

The PCC-led group comprised Alvin David of the Planning and Special Projects Division (PSPD), Zadieshar Sanchez and Jan Czarina Salas of the Business Development and Commercialization Unit, Patrizia Camille Saturno of the Central Dairy Collection and Processing Facility, Honeylyn Palileo of Milka Krem, Estella Valiente of the NIZ as well as Melchor Correa of Eastern Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative (EPMPC), Leoncio Callo of Catalanacan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CAMPC), Gerardo Delos Santos of Casile Dairy Producers Cooperative (CDPC), Teody Nieva of Guiset Organic Farmers Credit Cooperative (GOFCC), and Allan Benitez of Simula ng Panibagong Bukas Producers Cooperative (SIPBU), all based within province of Nueva Ecija.

“I recommended the participation of coop chairmen and PCC staff with business and coop-related functions for them to acquire new insights on cooperative roles and performance, business strategies, and emerging industry standards,” Dr. Liza G. Battad, PSPD chief, said.

The international conference was organized by the University of the Philippines, through the joint efforts of the UP Los Baños-Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-Enterprise Development (UPLB-ICOPED), College of Economics and Management (UPLB-CEM), and the UP Mindanao School of Management (UPMin-SOM). It was held in connection with the celebration of the Centennial Year of Philippine Cooperatives this year and in cooperation with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

The event, with the theme “The Future of Agribusiness and Cooperative Enterprises: Examining Local and Global Contexts,” was composed of two co-located conferences: the 7th International Conference on Agribusiness Economics and Management (ICAEM) of UPMin-SOM and the 2nd International Conference on Cooperatives (ICOOP) of ICOPED.

According to philcoop.net, the conference was aimed at highlighting the important role of cooperatives in agribusiness and enterprise development as well as opportunities for mainstreaming cooperative enterprises in the agribusiness sector. It also sought to build and strengthen linkages among the local and international stakeholders in the field of agribusiness and cooperatives.

EPMPC chairman Correa, as representative of the smallholder farming sector during the event, shared with fellow participants the experience of how their cooperative started, and how they overcome all the trials they have encountered with the help of PCC and other government agencies.

“By the grace of God, we can overcome our problems. First we tackled the lack of market; we looked for it and looked beyond milk feeding programs. We talked to PCC and used their linkages in looking for new markets. We thanked the Lord for every new client we found. We also negotiated the price of raw milk. In fact, some of our members managed to send their children to college while some already purchased service vehicles because of dairying. Right now, we also helped fellow dairy cooperatives and associations by buying their milk,” Correa narrated.

PCC trains 15 individuals to pilot FLS-DBP project

A group comprising 15 individuals recently underwent a three-week training preparatory to the piloting of a study titled “Farmer Livestock School on Dairy Buffalo Production (FLS-DBP)”, which is part of a three-year research project of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).

Those who completed the training were six dairy farmers, one village-based artificial insemination technician (VBAIT), four extension workers and four PCC staff from Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Norte.

They are Melchor Correa, Eliseo C. Mislang, Freddie P. Carlos, Allan O. Dayag, Lumicio DC. Magtalas, Teody G. Nieva, Arnolfo B. Corpuz, Geneveve V. Suliva, Ailin E. Battad, Daniel De Vera, Gina G. Tuquero, Catherine P. Dabalos, Hannah Lois C. Paraoan, Estella P. Valiente and Ma. Theresa R. Sawit, respectively.

Titled “Learning Workshop on FLS-DBP”, the activity was held at the PCC national headquarters and gene pool in the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija on September 14 to October 6.

According to Erwin Valiente, one of the FLS-DBP researchers, the training module, which was developed by a team of experts from various PCC operating units, consisted of six courses, namely, preparing facilitators for FLS Implementation, mobilizing communities for FLS, raising healthy and productive dairy buffalo, building enterprises from buffalo, participatory technology, and participatory tools to measure FLS effects and impacts.

“The training module was developed with assistance from Marie Alo, supervising science research specialist of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research Development (PCAARRD),” Valiente added.

PCAARRD is assisting PCC in the FLS-DBP study, which is one of two studies under the agency’s research project titled “Extension Methods for Adoption of Dairy Buffalo Technology in Selected Barangays in Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Norte.”

According to Dr. Eric Palacpac, project leader, the research is primarily aimed at developing extension modalities for the holistic delivery of extension services and strengthening technology adoption among village-based dairy buffalo farmers.

The other study involves the mobilization of a mobile team of communicators of innovations.

“The PCC has trained 15 individuals recently to have pilot trainers on FLS-DBP. They will serve as trainers and/or facilitators to other farmers in selected barangays in Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Norte with incentives,” he explained.

“Moreover, the FLS training proper will actually start early next year. The fifteen individuals will be separated into three teams having five members for each team,” he said.

Team One will be composed of Correa, Mislang, Carlos, Tuquero and Sawit; Team Two will be made up of Dayag, Magtalas, Nieva, De Vera and Valiente, and Team Three will be composed of Corpuz, Suliva, Battad, Dabalos and Paraoan. They will teach FLS-DBP in San Jose City, Guimba and Talugtug, Nueva Ecija and in Ilocos Norte, respectively.

“The FLS is actually a school without walls. It is a participatory, hands-on, interactive, experiential adult learning and decision-making approach engaged in by a group of farmers in a training program and conducted right in the farmers’ field or locality,” Palacpac further explained.

PCC study to improve production efficiency, rate of genetic gain among buffaloes underway

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) is undertaking a new research study aimed at improving the production efficiency of buffaloes and the rate of genetic gain of the animals through the use of genomic information in breeding and selection.

This was revealed by Dr. Ester Flores, head of PCC’s genetic improvement program (GIP) unit and lead researcher of the study.

Titled “Application of genomic information in dairy buffalo breeding program: Genotyping the Philippine water buffaloes using medium density 90,000 (90K) buffalo Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) panel”, the study has two components: genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for milk production traits in Philippine dairy buffaloes, and development and application of genomic selection in buffalo breeding program.

“It is being conducted to further expand the number of SNP markers that we currently have in marker- assisted selection (MAS) of our carabaos and to help us set up a reference population (information nucleus) for our dairy buffaloes for use in genomic selection. ,” Flores said.

It is also meant to provide us (the researchers) knowledge and skills in analyzing and utilizing dense genomic information that we can use in our buffalo breeding program, she added.

“To do this, we will use an advance technology to identify a set of DNA markers that will enable us to identify which among our animals have high genetic merit in terms of their milk production and milk component traits. The technology that we are going to use is the medium density 90k SNP chip,” she revealed.

Medium density 90k SNP chip

According to Flores, the medium density 90k SNP chip is a type of DNA microarray that is being used to detect polymorphisms (occurrence of two or more clearly different phenotypes or characteristics in the same population of a species) in the buffalo’s genes.

She said that this chip contains 90,000 DNA markers that can help identify which among the animals are carrying a favorable allele on its gene and, thus, good for use in the breeding program implementation to further improve the buffalo’s breed.

“The 90k SNP chip is considered as an advanced technology in identifying DNA markers for various or specific traits of carabaos. It was designed through the Expert Design Program facilitated by Affymetrix, which is a pioneer in microarray technology and a leader in genomics analysis, and the only commercially available high-density buffalo genotyping tool,” Flores explained.

She added that, the PCC is the first agency in the Philippines to use this technology.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS)

According to the cited literature of the research study, GWAS is now a preferred method for exploring genes associated with quantitative traits and has advantages over quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping through linkage analysis as it results in greater power of detection. Further, it gives more precise QTL position estimates because it exploits the linkage disequilibrium between the marker and QTL at the population level of the specific DNA marker of the buffaloes.

In the research study, GWAS will be used to analyze the association between markers and phenotype of the gathered SNP markers to determine a list of significant markers associated with milk production and milk component traits of the animals DNA samples that were sent to the laboratory for genotyping using the 90k SNP chip panel. The significant SNP markers that will be identified are valuable for genomic selection of dairy buffaloes in the future.

Genomic selection in buffalo breeding program

Genomic selection, as defined in the research study, is one method to further predict the breeding value of an animal based on its genotype from a dense panel of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers regularly spaced throughout the whole genome of the buffalo’s DNA.

In fact, as Flores pointed out, a lot of livestock industries in other countries, most notably on dairy cattle, have been implementing genomic selection for several years already with successful results. The proportion of sires used as semen donor for artificial insemination that are non-progeny tested but have genomic breeding values is growing on a yearly basis even in species or breeds with small population. This is a reflection of the confidence of the industry on genomic selection.

In the current research study, development and application of genomic selection is one of the target outputs of the research. By using this, faster generation interval will be achieved and identification of buffaloes having high genetic merits in terms of its milk production and milk component traits will be identified in a lesser time because they are directly working and evaluating the buffaloes’ gene, Flores said.

She added that it is very efficient in spotting genetically superior animals that are best to use in the breeding program implementation.

“One way to do that is to have higher accuracy of selection by means of adding additional parameter like of genotyping the dairy buffaloes,” she added.

Expected outputs

The following are the expected deliverables of the study:</>

  • On the first year of the study, the research is expected to provide genomic information from 90K SNP panels of 900 cows or buffaloes with phenotype and identify 12 significant SNP markers from the buffaloes DNA’s.
  • On its second year, it is expected to identify eight young bulls nominated or selected for breeding based on its best lineal and bias prediction and estimated breeding values (BLUP EBVs) and its genotype information based on the significant SNP markers that will be derived; and provide population stratification of local riverine type of buffaloes.
  • On the third year, it is expected to determine the effect of each and every SNP solutions using GWAS; to derive a model on estimating the Genomic Breeding Values (GEBV) of the animals in the information nucleus; increase accuracy of selection of buffaloes based on Parent Average Estimated Breeding Values (PAEBV) 0.46 to GEBV 0.56; and finally, to identify eight young bulls nominated and selected for breeding based on its BLUP EBVs and GEBVs.

Multiplier Dairy Farms: Multiplying dairy buffalo-based opportunities

The continuing efforts of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) to encourage Filipino farmers to venture into carabao-raising and carabao-based enterprises, has given rise to a new kind of partnership with private entrepreneurs who have the capacity and willingness to help pursue the goals of the agency.

Such partnership is manifested in the Dairy Buffalo Multiplier Farm (DBMF) project, which, from indications, is now well on the way to expansion.

In the town of Javier, Leyte, 73 kilometers south of Tacloban City, one can find the country’s first DBMF, which was established proponent-cooperator Michael Javier on a four-hectare land in Sitio Mapula, Zone II after entering into a DBMF agreement with PCC.

Dr. Arnel N. Del Barrio, PCC acting executive director, together with the staff of PCC at Visayas State University (PCC-VSU) in Baybay, Leyte, officially turned-over 50 Italian Murrah heifers in a ceremony held late 2014, marking the official launch of the country’s first DBMF project.

Del Barrio explained that the multiplier farm is another strategy aimed at increasing the population of dairy buffalos and breeder base, improve animal productivity that will help ensure availability of milk, and serve as a demonstration farm for farmer-partners and stakeholders for better appreciation of buffalo-based enterprise through dairying.

He added that the Department of Agriculture supports the implementation of the DBMF operation scheme as it believes that this project can contribute substantially to the sustainable growth of the Philippine dairy industry and can create more livelihood opportunities.

Operating a DBMF basically involves breeding, milk production and processing, and establishing a sustainable dairy enterprise. The covering contract is awarded to qualified farmer-trustees that gives them to gain access to good quality animals and technical support for carabao production, breeding and marketing activities.

Under the applicable scheme, PCC entrusts a number of imported or island-born purebred heifer animals, depending on the capability of DBMF partner. The animals are to be paid within an eight-year period.

The first payment, in the form of heifers, commences within or at least at the end of the 4th year of the contract and the last payment is within or at the end of 8th year of the contract. The heifer should be at least 14 months of age, weighing not less than 220 kilograms in body weight, and has an average body size for its age.

Mayor Leonardo Javier Jr. said that DBMF project in his town will translate to economic benefits for his constituents.

A fourth-class municipality with 28 barangays, most of the households in Javier town are engaged in corn, abaca and coconut planting.

“What does this multiplier farm mean to the town? It means we will have milk, so we will have income. We will have organic fertilizers from the animal manure. We will benefit a lot,” he said in his message during the turn-over ceremony.

Dairy farm management

It was not smooth sailing at the start.

The Javier DBMF personnel had to work double time to set up the required housing facilities for the animals. For two weeks, the construction works went on full swing mode. The personnel also underwent intensive hands-on training to familiarize themselves on the actual management of the dairy animals.

The 50 Italian Murrah heifers arrived on the farm on October 31, 2014.

The animals were fed with fresh napier four times a day. The workers also engaged in silage-making to ensure the availability of continuous supply of feed for the animals.

According to Dario Divino, Javier DBMF supervisor, the challenge they confronted was how to keep the animals healthy and disease-free.

“We monitored the animals 24-hours a day. We divided the 12 staff into two groups. The day shift is in-charge of feeding and health monitoring of the animals while the night shift conducts heat detection of the animals,” said Divino.

On the part of PCC at VSU, its center director, Dr. Julius Abela, made sure that close health monitoring is ensured and that technical assistance to the farm is always at hand. The center’s staff also assisted in the planting and growing of napier grass in the forage areas.

The farm uses artificial insemination for its breeding management. Out of the 30 animals artificially inseminated; a dam gave birth with a female calf on August 27. Additional births are expected in the days ahead.

The farm also practices the use of coco peat as animal bedding and to lessen the foul smell in the dairy farm as well as helping the pens to stay clean and dry.

The coco peat primarily consists of coir fiber pith or coir dust, which is obtained by processing coconut husk and removing the long fibers. It can hold large quantities of water, just like a sponge.

“Twice a day after cleaning the area, we scatter the coco peats on the pens,” Divino said.

“The animal wastes that we collect every day are transformed into organic fertilizer, which we apply to our forage area,” he added.

According to Divino, the DBMF management is undertaking the necessary preparations for the construction of the farm’s milking parlor and processing plant to prepare for the future much-anticipated milking activities of the farm

The Javier DBMF management will also adopt the PCC “paiwi system” for its animal re-dispersal in the community.

“The farm’s role is to multiply the animal stocks and eventually distribute the calves produced to qualified farmers in our areas as shared animals. We will help the farmers to become our business partners. Milk collected from the animals that we entrusted to them will be collected or delivered to us,” Divino further said.

The farm intends to market the processed products through the popular Andok’s chain of stores, a family business owned by the Javier’s.

The farm aims to raise its herd up to 100 head in the years to come.

Other adopters

Two other DBMF proponent-operators have been added to the list of qualified beneficiaries of the program. Both in Tarlac, the new DBFMs are operated by Alfredo Belen Farm and RG Agustin Dairy Farm.

Alfredo Belen, owner of the Belen Farm in Magao, Concepcion, Tarlac, was entrusted with 40 head of Italian Murrah heifers in December 2014. To date, 11 calves were already produced and six of the breedable buffaloes were confirmed pregnant.

The turnover of the multiplier dairy module to RG Agustin Multiplier Farm in Tambugan, Camiling, Tarlac was done during the inauguration of PCC’s Livestock Innovations and Biotechnology (LIB) complex last March 20. The 25-head Italian Murrah heifers were awarded to Rommel Agustin, owner of RG Agustin Dairy Farm.

As of September, one female calf was produced.

In the days ahead, with the three DBFMs serving as forerunners, PCC hopes to see the multiplication of more dairy buffalo multiplier farms in other parts of the country.

PCC veterinarians, animal health coordinators undergo training course on retooling

Continuous training of veterinarians is one of the strategies to further develop their knowledge and skills in the early diagnosis of disease and proper management of sick animals.

This is one of the primary reasons behind the conduct of a training course on retooling of veterinarians and animal health coordinators of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) on September 21-25 held at the PCC National Headquarters and Gene Pool, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

The participants consisted of 20 veterinarians and animal health coordinators from the PCC regional centers and 13 staff from national headquarters.

Staff from PCC Animal Health and Biosafety Unit, NIZ and National Gene Pool served as facilitators and training support staff.

“This training is essential for us, especially for our veterinarians who directly handle animals in the Gene Pool, National Impact Zone (NIZ) and other PCC institutional herds. This could be of help to enhance the capability of our center veterinarians in dealing with emergency cases encountered in the field and to standardize the protocols we are teaching to our farmer-cooperators in addressing basic health issues,” Dr. Nancy C. Abes, PCC animal health coordinator, explained.

The five-day training was aimed at evaluating the current status of the water buffaloes among institutional herds, cooperatives and quarantine area of PCC; determining the animal health-related concerns or difficulties encountered by the PCC veterinarians in the farm or field; and assisting the animal health coordinators in the diagnosis of different diseases encountered in the field through review of important diseases affecting water buffaloes and re-introduction of the current animal health management.

Activities involved in the training were lectures on animal health program; presentation of herd health program and current animal health issues common to PCC herd per center; discussion of issues and concerns related to animal health; standardization of approved veterinary protocol and practices in the field; laboratory exercises; and surgical demonstration on prolapse repair, caesarian operation and rumenotomy.

Dr. Antonio A. Rayos, professor at the Dairy Products and Technology Development Division, Animal and Dairy Sciences Cluster, College of Agriculture at the University of the Philippines–Los Baños, provided a lecture and actual demonstration of the surgical procedure on caesarian operation and other related matters.

Hangga’t maaari gusto natin na manganak ‘yong hayop ng normal lang pero kapag malaking masyado ang bulo at hindi niya mailabas, doon palang gagawin ang caesarian. Pagkatapos ng operation, pagkalipas ng dalawang linggo pwede ng tanggalin yung tinahi, ang post-operative procedures ay antibiotic sa loob ng mga pitong araw at sprayan ng disinfectant ‘yong sugat. (As much as possible we want the animals to give birth normally but if the calf is very big and it’s hard for her to take it out, that’s only the time to have a caesarian operation. Two weeks after the operation, we can now remove the skin suture. Some basic post-operative procedures include providing of antibiotic for about seven days and spraying of disinfectant to the wound),” Dr. Rayos explained.

After the training, the agency and participants are expected, among others, to have standardized animal health protocols as part of training modules for farmers and come up with best practices in animal health management that could be applied as integral part of the animal health program.

PCC scientist honored in 64th PHILAAST annual convention

Dr. Claro N. Mingala, scientist II at the biosafety and environment unit of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), was bestowed the Gregorio Y. Zara award-applied science research category for being an outstanding veterinary practitioner in veterinary research during the International Conference on Science & Technology (S&T) Education and 64th Annual Convention of the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology (PHILAAST) held on September 10-11 in Manila.

The Gregorio Y. Zara awards for Basic Science Research and for Applied Science Research were established by the Zara Family and PhilAAST in 1968 to honor one of the most outstanding National Scientists of the Philippines and to serve as inspiration for Filipino scientists and researchers.

Mingala’s field of specialization is on the management of infectious diseases in ruminants, particularly in water buffaloes.

He was conferred the rank of scientist II under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Scientific Career System. He is currently the chief for the PCC-based Livestock Biotechnology Center at the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. He is also an Affiliate Faculty of the Institute of Graduate Studies, Department of Animal Science, Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija and Adjunct Faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of the Philippines- Los Baños.

He was recognized as the 2014 Most Outstanding Veterinary Practitioner in the Veterinary Research Practice of the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines (VPAP). In 2014 and 2013 he was awarded with the Distinguished Service Award during the 101st   and 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Science City of Muñoz.  The Philippine Society of Animal Science- Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. awarded Mingala the 2012 Distinguished Researcher in Veterinary Medicine.

Mingala has conducted numerous researches on the management of infectious diseases. His researches focused on the following: characterization, assessment, microbiology and molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases, such as the Trypanosomiasis, Mastitis, Cryptosporidiosis and other viral diseases affecting water buffaloes.

His on-going researches under PCC and CLSU collaboration include Epidemiological survey of fasciolosis in water buffaloes in the  PCC-assisted dairy cooperatives in the agency’s National Impact Zone (NIZ) and anti-microbial resistant bacterial strains.

Mingala is currently involved in continuing collaboration with researches on the epidemiological surveys of bovine and porcine infectious diseases in Kyoritsu, Japan; characterization of non-TB mycobacterium isolates from water buffaloes and of public health importance, and molecular-epidemiological evaluation of leptospirosis in water buffaloes and its risk to public health, both at the Research Center for Zoonosis Control, Japan.