PCC, DLD-Thailand identify specific areas of collaboration

Potential collaborations on nutrition and forage development, reproductive biotechnology, product development, breeding, and knowledge management, between the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) of Thailand and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) were explored during the “Technical Cooperation Meeting” of the said agencies on June 22, 2017.

This is following the signing of Implementing Arrangement (IA) on Swamp and Dairy Buffalo Production between the said agencies as part of the agricultural deal forged between the Philippines and Thailand during President Rodrigo Duterte’s official visit to Bangkok, Thailand on March 20, 2017.

Mr. Tossaporn Srisakdi, DLD’s Deputy Director General, and Dr. Arnel del Barrio, PCC’s Executive Director, led the two teams in identifying specific areas of collaboration during the said meeting.

“We recognize the value of partnerships and collaborations. Thailand is one such important country in this endeavor considering its many advances in livestock production and related enterprises,” Dr. del Barrio said during the activity.

For his part, Mr. Srisakdi expressed his enthusiasm and support to the identified areas of cooperation.

Dr. del Barrio has mentioned during the IA signing in Bangkok that the partnership’s goal is to strengthen collaboration on scientific and technical cooperation, specifically to promote, exchange [ideas] and collaborate on breeding, reproduction, nutrition management and other areas.


He also said that the collaboration is in support of the government’s effort in developing the dairy industry. 

PCC, partners sign agreement for milk supplementation among Grade 1 pupils in Muñoz

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), Department of Education (DepEd), and the local government unit (LGU) of the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija forged an agreement last June 21 for a milk supplementation program that will reduce malnutrition incidence at least among children in Muñoz elementary schools.

Representatives of the three entities signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) at the Muñoz North Central School for the implementation of the program.

The program also aims to help the dairy farmers in the marketing of their milk produce.

This is in line with the project titled, “Nutrition Intervention through Milk Supplementation Program for Primary School Children in Nueva Ecija,” a collaborative school-based research of PCC, DepEd, and LGU in support of the House Bill No. 5269.

The bill, which was approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives, aims to promote nutrition among school children, especially those belonging to low-income households, protect them from malnutrition and enhance their learning capacities. It also includes the institutionalization of the National School Feeding Program (NSFP) for public kindergarten and elementary pupils.

Under the MOA, the PCC and its partner-institutions will provide the milk supplement to Grade 1 pupils of 12 identified schools in the Science City of Muñoz where there is high prevalence of malnutrition.

Signatories of the MOA were PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel del Barrio, City Mayor Nestor Alvarez, and Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Catalina Paez. Witnesses to the signing ceremony were Assistant City Schools Division Superintendent Ronilo Hilario, PCC Division Chief- Research for Development Dr. Annabelle Sarabia, Senior Education Program Specialist Dr. Leoval Dela Cruz, and City Cooperative Officer Engr. Joel Manuel.

The undertaking will be implemented through a cost-sharing basis among the concerned agencies. PCC will provide 107,508 sachets of 200 ml pasteurized toned buffalo’s milk for 204 feeding days (one school year) for 527 Grade I pupils. The commodity will cost Php1,290,096.

The LGU- Science City of Muñoz, on the other hand, shares the delivery cost of Php158,130 from PCC to the intended public schools and other expenses necessary to ensure the quality of milk after the release from PCC.

The city schools division of Muñoz takes care of other logistical support to ensure smooth implementation of the project such as expenses for meetings and office supplies.

“This project is aligned with the mandate of PCC to improve the general well-being of our rural farming families by engaging them in carabao-based enterprises and to reduce malnutrition problem among children by drinking carabao’s milk. Providing for better nutrition for the children is a wise development investment for their future,” Dr. del Barrio, in his inspirational message, said.

Nutritionists said that carabao’s milk contains riboflavin or vitamin B2 needed for normal growth, an agent against skin swelling, inflammation of the lining of mouth and tongue, and dizziness. Its vitamin A content helps in maintaining good eyesight while vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus are valuable nutrients for strong teeth and bones.

Mayor Alvarez disclosed that his office and the school’s division superintendent of Muñoz are currently studying the possibility of passing an ordinance that prohibits the sale of junk food and soft drinks in all school canteens in the city. Once finalized and approved, he said, the junk foods will be replaced by dairy products such as carabao’s milk, and other healthy food and drinks.

“My dream is for the schoolchildren in this city to become brighter, healthier and more enthusiastic. One way of achieving this is through this milk supplementation program. We are willing to provide the necessary support to broaden and sustain this program,” Mayor Alvarez said.

The parents of the children, who were noticeably delighted about the program, expressed their appreciation to PCC, DepEd, and to the LGU-Science City of Muñoz for extending their help in ensuring the nutritional welfare of their children.

“My child has been drinking carabao’s milk since May and I can say that he doesn’t get sick too often now. I used to buy it from our neighbor but it is not always available. Thanks to this program, my son would be able to drink carabao’s milk regularly for free,” Rachele Niegos, a mother of one of the Grade 1 pupils at Muñoz North Central School, said.

A similar program is also being carried out in selected schools in San Jose City.

A project team of PCC is identifying two more municipalities in Nueva Ecija for the implementation of the milk supplementation program in elementary schools.


PCC trains carabao’s milk traders on milk quality testing, safety assurance

Thirteen carabao’s milk traders gained better understanding and skills on milk quality testing as well as on the safety assurance of consumers in a consultative meeting cum training held last June 9 at the PCC national headquarters in the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija.

The meeting was aimed at encouraging the milk traders in Nueva Ecija in assessing and testing first the quality of milk they are buying and trading for the benefit of the consumers.

According to Wilma del Rosario, PCC Senior Science Research Specialist and NIZ coordinator, a similar activity will be done quarterly as one of the ways in implementing the Food Safety Act. It will also serve, she added, as a preparation for those involved in the dairy industry for the implementation of the proposed Philippine National Standards for Hygienic Milk.

“The milk traders also play a big role in strengthening niche markets for the carabao’s milk,” del Rosario said.

The consultative meeting also involved discussions on “Assessment of Milking and Handling Practices along the Milk Value Chain in Nueva Ecija Cum Food Safety Act of 2013”, led by Mina Abella, supervising science research specialist, and “Milk Quality Evaluation and Standards”, led by Frederick Bacani, science research assistant.

The participants in the event were from the cities of Palayan and Cabanatuan and from the towns of Talavera, Quezon, and Aliaga. As traders, they procure the carabao’s milk from the dairy farmers in different places and supply it to the milk processors in Talavera, Cabiao, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Tarlac.

As part of the event, they were allowed to do actual milk quality testing through organoleptic tests and other essential tests under the supervision of Daisy Flores, science research assistant.

After the training, each of the participants received a milk testing kit. The kit included a lactometer, graduated cylinder (250 ml cap), 10 pieces of conical tube (15 ml cap), one set of computed specific gravity table, one bottle of 60% ethanol (500 ml), one pipette (10 ml), one recording logbook, and a bottle of 70% ethyl alcohol.

Research information outputs must be really needed by stakeholders, LRD-PCAARRD head emphasizes

More deliberate steps in collecting and processing information for research projects are needed in order to come up with usable outputs for the dairy industry.

This was stressed by Dr. Synan Baguio, Supervising Science Research Specialist of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development-Livestock Research Division (DOST-PCAARRD-LRD), during the recent evaluation of a continuing PCAARRD-funded program.

The program is titled “Enhancing Milk Production of Water Buffaloes through S &T interventions” with Dr. Arnel N. del Barrio, Philippine Carabao Center(PCC) Executive Director, as program leader.

“If we translate the information we generate from our researches into farm practices, it will be easier to teach, lead, and convince the farmers to use our technologies,” Dr. Baguio emphasized.

He added that research outputs should not only be understandable but the information therein must be really needed by the stakeholders.

Baguio further urged the PCC scientists and researchers to present their studies in a more “laymanized” manner during [dairy] industry meetings to encourage stakeholders, such as the private entities, to give their guidance on how these information should be packaged to make it usable to them and to the industry.

Five projects under the program were evaluated. They were the “Development of Feeding Protocols and Practices to Support the Nutritional Requirements of Dairy Buffaloes”, “Development of Reproductive Management Program for Increased Efficiency of AI in Dairy Buffaloes”, “Development of Health Care Technologies and Practical Farm Practices in Support of Increasing Buffalo Milk Production”, “Milk Quality and Safety Assurance from Farm to Milk Processing Plant”, and “Strengthening the San Agustin Crossbred Carabao-based Enterprise Development Model”. 

A professor of the University of the Philippines at  Los Baños, Dr. Jose Arceo Bautista,  added during the evaluation of the program that researchers and scientists should not forget to come up with practical packages of animal health technologies that will enhance the optimal production of milk.

Dr. Baguio and Dr. Bautista served as evaluators during the activity. In addition to their suggestions, they also recommended ways for each project to come up with better results.

Aside from Dr. del Barrio, the project leaders of the program were present during the evaluation activity. They included Dr. Daniel Aquino, center director of PCC at Central State University; Dr. Edwin Atabay, PCC Scientist I, Dr. Claro Mingala, PCC Scientist II; Ms. Mina Abella, PCC Supervising Science Research Specialist; and Dr. Anabelle Sarabia, PCC Research for Development Division Chief.

The researchers involved in the program also attended the activity.

Started on February 1, 2016, all the projects under the program are expected to be completed on January 31, 2019.


PCC identifies Calayan Island as another native carabaos sanctuary

True to its mandate of conserving, promoting, and propagating the carabao as a source of milk, meat, draft power and hide, the Philippine Carabao Center is continuously exploring possible conservation sites for the country’s native carabaos.

One of them which was recently identified is the Calayan Island in Cagayan.

Why Calayan? 

Located about 39 km west-southwest of Babuyan Island off the north coast of the Philippines and belonging to the Babuyan Islands group in the China Sea, Calayan Island has been identified as a place in Northern Luzon with no other breeds of water buffaloes, except the native ones, introduced to the island.

The exploration of the conservation site was initiated by Dir. Franklin Rellin, center director of PCC at Cagayan State University (PCC@CSU). He discussed and presented the PCC’s programs and services to Calayan Mayor Alfonso Llopis and municipal agriculturist Lino Llopis. The local government unit (LGU) then committed to donate 50 hectares of land in support of the establishment of the conservation site.

In order to establish the species identification of the native carabaos found in the island, researchers from the PCC national headquarters have assisted the PCC@CSU by undertaking morphological characteristics and molecular identification of the animals.

They were composed of Dr. Ester Flores, Project Development Officer IV; Laila Labonite, Science Research Specialist I; and Sherwin Matias, Science Research Specialist I of the Genomics and Bioinformatics unit and Lilian Villamor, Senior Science Research Specialist; Alexander Paraguas, Science Research Specialist I; and David Antalan III, Science Research Assistant of the Cryobank unit.

The research team collected 79 whole blood samples and documented the morphological features and morphometrics of the species.

The biological samples were processed in the PCC national headquarters facilities. They encompassed the DNA isolation and the downstream molecular analysis for species identification.

Informative genetic markers were also used, such as the Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) from the mitochondrial DNA and the recommended Food Agriculture Organization short tandem repeats (FAO-STR) or “microsatellites” from the nuclear DNA, for the analysis.

Both genetic markers revealed that the representative samples collected from the island were native carabaos based on their relatedness to other native carabaos in other provinces in Luzon and in other countries.

Meanwhile, the data which entails the presence of subpopulation or other breeds of native carabaos in Calayan is still underway.  A better understanding on the species identification of native buffaloes in Calayan based on their molecular and phenotypic characters will elucidate the evolutionary history and domestication of native buffaloes in the country.

Moreover, the data will be used for the strategic conservation management of the buffalo species in the island.

The undertaking of the activities conducted was made possible through the DA Livestock Program-funded project titled, “Genetic Diversity of the Philippine Carabao using mtDNA (COI) and microsatellite markers (FAO STRs)”.

Conservation management

PCC’s conservation efforts are done in two ways: conservation by improving its economic value and conservation by preserving, cryobanking, and maintaining the good genes of native carabaos.

“This is not just conservation. It is actually helping the carabao population in the island become more productive and become really better animals. When we say productive, we improve the herd by selecting good breeder bulls and we improve the population diversity by also managing the inbreeding for them,” Dr. Flores said.

The team has started acquiring the total herd inventory of the carabaos in the island and is applying ear tagging to identify and classify them according to age groups.

“The population of native carabaos in Calayan is unique and already homogenous so the more that we should be very careful in managing the inbreeding of the population and that is where we will help,” Dr. Flores said.

She added that it is very critical to identify the bulls which are suitable for breeding. Thus, she said, they will be needing the information about the established pedigree and the inventory of all the animals for the whole island to make it easier for the team to help manage the inbreeding concerns.

So far, the other conservation sites for native carabaos which were identified for exploration were Carlos P. Garcia Island in Bohol and Biri Island in Samar for the Visayas. The team is still assisting in identifying possible sanctuaries for native carabaos in Mindanao.