PCC researchers learn technical know-how on molecular phylogenetics

Researchers of PCC gained better understanding of the practical applications of molecular analysis thru various methods and techniques discussed in-depth in a recent three-day “Workshop on Molecular Phylogenetics” held last September 12, 19, and 26 at the PCC national headquarters, Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija.

“These methods and techniques can be utilized to further characterize the different varieties of carabaos for whatever purpose it may serve the PCC. For example, we can use this method to identify the relatedness of its different varieties whether species-level or subspecies level for breeding, genetic variation or other purposes,” Dr. Ian Kendrich Fontanilla, who served as the resource person and shared his expertise on molecular phylogeny, said.

Dr. Fontanilla is an associate professor from the Institute of Biology of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

During the workshop, the PCC researchers were exposed to the practical application of various statistical tools and molecular programs for the analysis and interpretation of phylogenetic relationship of species particularly on livestock. A series of lectures and hands-on computer exercises using various programs and statistical tools to analyze sequences were done to achieve this.

PCC Senior Science Research Specialist Lilian Villamor said the workshop helped PCC researchers to have a better understanding on aligning data sets and phylogenetic analysis using different tools, software, or programs and critically interpreting these data.

“We are now more equipped and knowledgeable in constructing species phylogeny inference and we are able to interpret the evolutionary relationship of target species,” Villamor explained.

According to John L. Gittleman of the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, phylogeny is the history of the evolution of a species or group, especially in reference to lines of descent and relationships among broad groups of organisms.

It encompasses construction of phylogenetic trees that are widely used to describe relationships among species in the tree of life. The approach to understand and establish species identification takes avail of the molecular phylogenetics as a tool for genome comparisons.

Said workshop was conducted by PCC thru its Research for Development Division (RDD).

RDD chief Dr. Annabelle Sarabia said the workshop will help participants gain knowledge on basic approaches in the identification of relationships among species and taxa and will be useful in their research activities and related undertakings.

PCC at USM graces ‘Kalivungan Festival 2016’

In celebration of the annual event of the Cotabato Province as it commemorates its 102nd Foundation Anniversary dubbed as “Kalivungan Festival 2016”, the Philippine Carabao Center at the University of Southern Mindanao (PCC at USM) participated as one of its exhibitors during the “Tabuan: The MSME Specials” last August 28 to September 1.

The trade exhibit, which aims to provide micro-small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), is a platform for building synergies through targeted business to business opportunities, market local products or services and have a closer interaction among other clients.

The week-long celebration formally opened at the Capitol Compound, Amas, Kidapawan City led by the Hon. Gov. Emmylou “Lala” J. Taliño-Mendoza.

The “Tabuan” showcased the locally produced products in the province of Cotabato which are marketed locally while the provincial government of Cotabato tapped experts to train and support these local producers to be globally competitive. This was done through various seminars to boost the knowledge and skills of entrepreneurs especially on improving product quality, labeling and packaging and provide market opportunities by collaborating investors locally and abroad.

PCC at USM displayed for sale its variety of dairy products and gained popularity by introducing the dragon fruit-flavored ice cream which drew crowd attention. IEC materials were likewise distributed to spectators and clients at the trade exhibit.

During the culmination program, PCC at USM was adjudged 3rd place Top Seller and 3rd Trendy Award to more than 30 exhibitors of various products with the support and leadership of its center director, Mr. Benjamin John C. Basilio. These awards only show that dairying is a potential business opportunity that will provide additional income to dairy farmers while improving the nutrition of children.

PCC GIP holds 1st AI Congress in Northern Luzon

The national Genetic Improvement Program (GIP) of PCC recently launched  the 1st Northern Luzon Artificial Insemination (AI) Congress at Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) Training Center in Batac City, Ilocos Norte last September 5-7.

Bearing the theme “Defining the Roles and Standards of an Artificial Insemination Technician in National Livestock Genetic Improvement and Enterprise,” the AI Congress aims to discuss issues and concerns pertaining to AI program implementation and to plan-out strategies on how to increase the number of AI services and improve its success rate.

PCC Acting Executive Director Dr. Arnel del Barrio emphasized that the objective of the congress is to enhance the appreciation of AI technicians about their work and that their contribution to the success of the GIP is crucial.

Hosting this AI Congress, PCC at MMSU director Grace Marjorie Recta said the three-day seminar is an avenue for AI technicians to acquire broader understanding and appreciation of their role in PCC’s efforts to genetically improve the Philippine carabao.

According to Recta, the congress is a combination of a refresher course (lectures) and a lessons-learned (sharing of experiences) methodology led by the best AI technicians in northern Luzon to inspire the other participants.

This learning method ensures that the participants get richer knowledge upon completion of the seminar.

Among the pool of experts from PCC who served as lecturers were Dr. Edwin Atabay, Scientist I, who discussed the standard protocol in the actual AI practice and advances in AI technology;  Dr. Ester Flores, PCC GIP national coordinator who was the resource person on carabao breeding program and sire directory; and Dr. Thelma Saludes, officer-in-charge of PCC at University of the Philippines – Los Baños (PCC-UPLB) who explained semen processing and handling.

The program was highlighted with the sharing of best practices on AI program implementation among other PCC regional centers.

PCC at Central Luzon State University (CLSU) AI program coordinator Dr. Fe Venturina shared the case in Region III, on how the AI diffusion rate was increased; Mr. Jose Canaria, counterpart of Dr. Venturina at PCC-UPLB shared the status of implementing the AI program in Regions IV-A, B, and V; PCCt-UPLB CBED coordinator Ms. Anna Reylene Montes shared “From AI to Enterprise: The Experience of Local Dairy Farmers in General Trias, Cavite and Rosario, Batangas; and Dr. Caro Salces, PCC at Ubay Stock Farm center director, explained how uterine flushing improved the success rate of AI in Bohol.

Moreover, PCC operations chief Mr. Honorato Baltazar discussed the role of AI technicians in PCC programs, and PCC at Cagayan State University center director Prof. Franklin Rellin explained the stipulations in the AI contract.

National Gawad Saka Awardee for 2012 Mr. Alex Pasion inspired the 156 participants attending the congress about how he met success through AI.

Pasion was hailed in 2015 by PCC-MMSU as outstanding Village-based Artificial Insemination Technician (VBAIT) among its roster of VBAITs for seven months.

“From tricycle to sarao (jeepney), I now have my own Hyundai Starex,” Pasion proudly testified his story of success. “I just want to say, there is a bright future here [AI].”

Two panel discussions addressed issues on the standards for AI practice, commitments for higher AI diffusion rate and herd build-up.

The Mindanao edition of the AI Congress is set on September 18-21.


PCC Mindanao-based centers target Halal product certification

Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) regional units at Mindanao are set to conduct a study on product development targeting carabao-based products to be certified as Halal.

PCC at Central Mindanao University director Dr. Lowell Paraguas explained during the inception meeting last August 30 the need of producing carabao-based products that are certified as Halal, which indicates that its preparation adheres to Islamic law as described in the Koran.

The 36-month project with proposed Php 670,900 initial fund is headed by Dr. Paraguas and will be supported by PCC at University of Southern Mindanao (USM), and Ms. Jane Tranquilan of Mindanao State University who will act as a Halal product consultant.

According to Tranquilan, the plan of the study is to acquire 24-40 heads of carabaos coming from the PCC institutional herds only and it will be divided into four controlled conditions.

“Meat quality testing will also follow standard operations procedure for Halal,” Tranquilan said. “A minimum of 6-10 carabaos will be slaughtered after 18 months, and three more batches to follow for ages 24, 30, and 36 months.”

All materials required for the project will be settled by April 2017 based on the study’s rationale.
Tranquilan mentioned molasses, soybean, copra and other organics which will be used as feeds for the controlled animals.

However, as a member of the previous team who worked on testing carabeef quality, PCC acting executive director Dr. Arnel del Barrio proposed changes in the methodology of the study particularly on reducing the cost of the project.

“Slaughtering the animals after 18 months is too early,” Dr. Del Barrio said. “The meat is very tender, 24-month old buffalo is a good one to start, and we can lessen the number of animals, also the overall cost of the project.”

Dr. Del Barrio also encouraged PCC at USM center director Dr. Benjamin Basilio to allot carabaos for the Halal development project to create multi-location trial.

Buffalo Raisers of the Philippines learn PCC’s programs

An attempt to extend anew the benefits of Carabao Development Program (CDP) to local dairy farmers was done during the interaction meeting between Buffalo Raisers of the Philippines (BRP) and Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) last August 26.

In his opening remarks, PCC acting executive director Dr. Arnel del Barrio, who also acts as co-administrator of BRP Facebook page mentioned that the event was a beginning of a strong partnership to propel the carabao industry in the country.

Dr. Del Barrio challenged the 84 members of BRP who joined the meeting to strengthen their commitment in developing their lives thru carabaos and make a way in the CDP which will open-up opportunities in producing good milk, meat, and hide output.

“We will help them to know the best practices and technologies in the carabao-based industry to make them experience the fullest benefits that their dairy animals can give to them,” Dr. Del Barrio said.

Moreover, operations chief Mr. Honorato Baltazar gave an introduction about the mandate of PCC since most of the members of BRP are not yet assisted by the agency.

Included in the objectives of the open-forum style program is to determine the kind of assistance PCC will provide to the members of BRP, thus Baltazar identified possible areas that can be worked on such as policy formulation, capital formation, convergence for socio-economic development, and public image building.

Baltazar explained that the intervention of PCC’s program to the workflow of BRP can lead to job generation and local dairy development.

Meanwhile, the interaction meeting featured selected farmers to share their stories in carabao raising which included Mr. Richard Reyes, a former OFW in Taiwan who started in the carabao-based industry in 2010 and now owns 42 carabaos.

Reyes is the chairman of the newly-formed Villa de Bacolor Dairy Farmers’ Association, and during his testimony, he recalled how his father influenced him to love carabaos and appreciate its advantages over other ruminants. From two liters of milk output in 2010, he now gets a minimum of 42 liters a day enabling him to acquire a 100-hectare land property.

Aside from Reyes, Mr. Charlie Suarez, a cock fighting specialist who owns the Candice Jean Gamefarm; Ms. Catalina Visda, member of Pulong Buli Multi-Purpose Cooperative; Mr. Leoncio Callo, chairman of Catalanacan MPC; Mr. Melchor Correa, chairman of Eastern Primary MPC; and Mr. Amado Cruz from Bulacan shared their respective beginnings in the carabao industry.
“1000%, there is a huge profit with carabaos. We just need to take good care of them,” Reyes said.

Also, present in the open-forum were Planning and Information Management Division chief Dr. Liza Battad, and PCC at Central Luzon State University center director Dr. Daniel Aquino.

PCC at CMU confirms 16 newly trained AI technicians

PCC at Central Mindanao University (PCC-CMU) recently added 16 Artificial Insemination (AI) technicians to its roster of allies in the field when it comes to genetic improvement of carabaos.

The batch, which was named “Sharp Shooters”, was trained at the PCC at CMU Regional Training Center on “Basic Training Course on Pregnancy Diagnosis and Artificial Insemination for Cattle and Water Buffalo” from August 8 to 31, 2016.  Four of the participants are village-based AI technicians, seven are from local government units (LGU), three are private individuals, one from PCC-CMU and one from the university dairy cattle project. The participants represented the provinces of  Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, North Cotabato, Davao del Norte, and Sarangani.

The training is seen by PCC-CMU as one of its strategies to intensify the realization of the genetic improvement program for carabao and cattle in the region and to capacitate its partner LGUs and other stakeholders on the necessary skills and proficiency in the conduct of pregnancy diagnosis (PD) and AI for large ruminants.

Lectures, discussions, and practicum exercises were used as methods of learning and the participants were encouraged to actively get involved with actual AI and PD.  Pre- and post-training evaluations were administered to the participants to measure their knowledge gain from the course.

The training team is composed of Dr. Lowell Paraguas (PCC-CMU center director), Vicenta Canatoy (training coordinator), and PCC-CMU’s pool of AI experts: Ramon Jumawan, Armando Racho, Ramon Soliven Jr., Virgilio Abon, Jesus Colipano, and Ariel Asong.

After 15 days of practicum, five days of lecture-discussions and a day of re-entry plan presentation and evaluation, the participants were confirmed as newly trained AI technicians.