Researchers urged to use molecular biology techniques in biotech research

Researchers, especially on livestock biotechnology, should be familiar with molecular biology techniques as these are the forefront of most modern scientific researches in livestock, Dr. Claro Mingala, Scientist II, of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), said.

“We encourage more researchers to use molecular biology techniques because only a few are using them here in the Philippines,” he said.

Molecular biology is a branch of biology that deals with biological activity in molecules such as the study of genes and other macromolecules. The use of molecular biology techniques applies to animal health, reproductive biotechnology, and nutrition and genetics, among others, Dr. Mingala explains.

According to him, enhancing researchers’ proficiency on laboratory techniques is essential to ensure their competitiveness and readiness to conduct research projects on livestock biotechnology.

With this in mind, Dr. Mingala and his team at the Livestock Biotechnology Center in PCC organized a training activity on the “Techniques in molecular biology for biotechnology research”. This is in collaboration with the National Research Council of the Philippines Division XIII headed by Dr. Mildred Padilla of the College of Veterinary Medicine of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.

The five-day activity was intended for researchers and scientists involved in molecular biology-related and biotechnological research in livestock and applied research.

“The training also aims to promote molecular biology, strengthen the biotech capabilities of researchers, and motivate them to do more researches harnessing molecular biology,” Dr. Mingala explained.

The training course focused on selected aspects of molecular biology such as those that provides principles for understanding the structure and functional relationships of molecular biology techniques including DNA manipulation, sequence analysis, phylogenetic analysis and PCR. Several examples of molecular applications were also highlighted.

Dr. Arnel del Barrio, acting executive director of PCC, highlighted in his message that translating research outputs to increased farmers’ income should be the main goal of PCC researchers.

He further encouraged the researchers to create significant impact in the industry, to the communities, and to the lives of the farmers through relevant researches.

The participants in the training responded positively to this motivation saying that while they already learned a lot in the training, they are earnest to learn more so that they can ably contribute in the industry.

“We will consider organizing more events like this in the future,” Dr. Mingala said in response to the participants’ requests.

The participants are from the regional offices of the Department of Agriculture in Regions III, IV-A, Regional Field Office II, Regional Animal Disease Diagnostics Laboratory, and representatives from State Colleges and Universities.


Farmer Livestock School pilot class graduates, now ready to apply new learnings in dairy buffalo production

Thirty-six dairy farmers in Nueva Ecija recently graduated from the very first “Farmer Livestock School on Dairy Buffalo Production (FLS-DBP)” in the Philippines and are expected to implement good practices in their dairy buffalo production systems to increase efficiency and income.

Said FLS graduation was held last February 10 at the City Hall of San Jose City in Nueva Ecija. Those who graduated were 29 dairy farmers from San Jose City and seven from Guimba-Talugtug in Nueva Ecija.

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

“This graduation day is proof that we have an output in our effort to strengthen extension support to buffalo farmers. We expect to see significant improvements in your practices on dairy buffalo production that will result in higher income. If you don’t adopt and practice the knowledge you gained from this project, our efforts will be futile,” Dr. Palacpac said as he welcomed the participants and guests in the ceremony.

Select farmers shared their respective testimonies on how the project helped them improve their practices on dairy buffalo production.

Emily Velasco of Simula ng Panibagong Bukas Producers Cooperative (SIPBUPCO) said the FLS helped her explore other benefits of carabao dairying. She shared that she now gets additional income not only from milking her dairy buffaloes but also from vermicomposting using carabao manure.

“I will definitely regret it if I didn’t join this project. It helped me a lot. Even though I have personal activities to attend to, I always prioritize our FLS schedule to improve my knowledge and skills on dairy production,” she said.

Florencio Madulid of Eastern Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative (EPMPC) imparted his learnings on proper feeding management and recording. He also shared that he has been applying the good practices that he learned from the FLS since it started.

“I used to feed my dairy animals with fodder before but because of FLS, I am now supplementing them with dairy concentrates and it really helped boost their milk production.  I want to thank those people behind this project. I will surely impart my knowledge and learnings to my fellow dairy farmers,” he said.

Ludivico Guieb of Ayos Lomboy Producers Cooperative (ALPC), on the other hand, encouraged his fellow dairy farmers to adopt care and management practices that is taught in the FLS so that they will also attain increased milk production, contributing to the PCC’s target of recording two million liters of carabao’s milk annually.

“This FLS has taught me so much about properly taking care of my dairy buffaloes . I am asking everyone here to believe in the full potential of your carabaos to produce more milk. Eventually, we will all succeed in this venture if only we apply all our learnings,” Guieb averred.

Ferdinand Guillermo of Cinense Dairy Association (CDA) shared his new knowledge on the importance of the buffaloes’ good nutrition and proper milk handling. He said he also learned a lot about the other kinds of forages that can be used as feedstuff.

“When you are into dairying, nothing is wasted. You are earning from buffalo’s milk and at the same time from its manure,” he said while smiling.

After the testimonials, outstanding dairy farmers who have excelled in their performance along the course were recognized during the ceremony.

According to Rovelyn Jacang, PCC Science Research Specialist II and one of the project staff, the criteria for the selection of top-performing dairy farmers include application of technologies taught during discussions (50%), written examination (20%), class participation (20%), and complete attendance (10%).

For the San Jose cluster participants, Moises Alfonso was given the “Gold Farmer” recognition, Gilbert Daduyo the “Silver Farmer”, and Jessie Villanueva the  “Bronze Farmer”; they are all members of EPMPC.

For the Guimba-Talugtug cluster, Ludivico Guieb of ALPC was the “Gold Farmer”, Ferdinand Guillermo and Edmar Lagliva of CDA were “ Silver and Bronze Farmers”, respectively.

Those who received special awards were Rogelio Peñaflor, Emily Velasco, Romeo Venturina, Jimuel Grospe, Ferdinand Guillermo, Onofre Dayag, Lee-Ar De Vera, and Edmar Lagliva for their active participation during FLS sessions.

Also present during the graduation ceremony were Dr. Felomino Mamuad, PCC deputy executive director; Dr. Ruth Miclat-Sonaco, center director of International Training Center on Pig Husbandry, Alexander Bautista, city administrator; Ms. Anna Marie Alo, supervising science research specialist of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research Development (PCAARRD); FLS project staff Jacang and Erwin Valiente, PCC Science Research Specialist II; and FLS-DBP facilitators Estella Valiente, PCC Science Research Specialist II; Daniel De Vera, agricultural technologist; Allan Dayag of CDA; Teody Nieva of Guiset Organic Farmers Credit Cooperative; Lumicio Magtalas of San Rafael Dairy Producers Cooperative; Melchor Correa and Eliseo Mislang of EPMPC; Freddie Carlos of SIPBUPCO; Ma. Theresa Sawit, PCC Senior Science Research Specialist; and Gina Tuquero.

The 34-week project ran every Fridays for San Jose cluster and every Wednesdays for Guimba cluster guided by accredited FLS-DBP facilitators.

It is hoped to be replicated in other impact zone areas of PCC to benefit more farmers. Meanwhile, the pilot class of FLS-DBP in the Ilocos Norte cluster is expected to graduate in March this year.

PCC, DSWD, partner-LGUs launch milk supplementation program for daycare pupils in Region 10

DA-PCC and DSWD recently launched a pilot convergence program on milk supplementation for Region 10 in cooperation with the local government units (LGUs) of Maramag, San Fernando and Damulog, Bukidnon. Said launching was held at the Maramag Gymnasium in Bukidnon last January 31.

A ceremonial awarding of check amounting to Php13,324,080 to PCC and cooperating LGUs highlighted the launch. Said amount was transferred by DSWD to PCC on November 29, 2016 to cover the purchase of milk that will be provided to 10,094 children registered in the target pilot Child Development Center (CDC) areas in Regions III, VII and X for 120 days.

The launch was also highlighted with a showcase of talents by the children-beneficiaries through dance performances and poetry recitals.

Present in the event were Dr. Enrico P. Garzon, Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Livestock; Manuel M. Borres, Assistant Regional Director for Administration; Atty. Jose Doromal, Vice Mayor of Maramag; guests from the central office of DSWD and PCC, 200 children-beneficiaries and their parents, CDC workers, and staff from participating LGUs.

In his speech, Asec. Garzon encouraged government agencies to find ways to collaborate and significantly contribute to the present administration’s goal of ending hunger and poverty in the country through accessible and affordable food for all.

“This partnership program of PCC and DSWD will not only provide an opportunity for the children of less privileged families to improve their nutritional status but will also motivate farmers to produce more milk because there is ready local market where they can supply their products. Through partnership, government agencies will be able to reach more sectors of our society,” Asec. Garzon explained.

Vice Mayor Borres, on the other hand, said the province of Bukidnon is fortunate to be the pilot site of the milk supplementation program.

“Each of the project stakeholders should see himself/herself as part of the project with a role or purpose to perform. The project gives meaning to the lives of the stakeholders when their purpose and involvement is clear,” he added.

Mary Joy Embate, one of the parent-representatives, expressed her gratitude and thanked the implementing agencies for extending nutrition support to their children. It makes her feel secured knowing  that her child is well taken cared of in the child development center.

“Every time I ask my child after fetching her from the center, ‘What would you like to eat?’, my child answers, ‘I’m fed and full, Mom’,” Embate says.

The pilot DSWD-PCC convergence project consists of two components: milk supplementation and livelihood.

The milk supplementation component aims to improve the height and weight for age of the children using the Child Growth Standard (CGS) by providing the children with 200ml of toned milk for 120 days in addition to the daily regular meals they receive from the Supplementary Feeding Program of DSWD. The livelihood component, on the other hand, aims to improve the socioeconomic conditions of sustainable livelihood program (SLP) beneficiaries or poor/smallhold dairy farmers with the acquisition of profit generating enterprises or employment in carabao-based enterprises (CBEs).

If found successful, there is a possibility that the project will be replicated in other areas to continually promote rural and value chain development as well as human capital development, which are two of the 10-point agenda of the Duterte administration.