Country’s move toward achieving milk self-sufficiency underscored in Dairy Congress in Bohol

Big developments are coming on the way of achieving higher milk production in the country which has been saddled with the problem of importing huge quantities of this commodity to supply the local demand.

Among these, according to the Dairy Confederation (DairyCon) of the Philippines Chairman Isidro Albano, are augmenting the base herd, creating new market niches, and raising the productivity and incomes of the dairy farmers.

These, he said, are included in the strategic plans and programs for the development of the local dairy industry, which were discussed in depth in the recently concluded 21st Dairy Congress and Expo held at the Bohol Cultural Center in Tagbilaran City, Bohol on May 23-25.

Other than that, strategic plans also include contributing to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) goal of increasing milk sufficiency in the country by 10%, and accelerating the realization of a self-reliant countryside.

Albano acknowledged that through the years, milk self-sufficiency has been one of the key challenges of the local dairy industry. Thus, this year’s congress focused on this major issue.

The country continues to import 99% of its milk requirements. However, as per reports released by the National Dairy Authority (NDA), the imports of milk and dairy products in 2017 declined by 8% (from 452.99 million kg. to 417.07 million kg.).

In terms of value, it went up to 12% (from total dairy import bill of US$807.72 million to US$903.10 million) indicating an increase in unit import cost of 21% and 29% in dollar terms and in pesos respectively.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, on the other hand, stated the Senate Policy Directions on Local Dairy Development and assured that bigger funds are coming to boost further performance of the livestock, poultry and dairy in the country.

In her keynote speech read by her representative and Chief-of-Staff, Atty. Rheagee Tamaña, Sen. Villar said she strongly endorsed the allotment of a higher budget for livestock and poultry during the Senate deliberations on the 2018 budget of the DA.

According to her, for a sector which is contributing 33% production, it is not fair for the livestock program to only get 2.7% of the DA’s entire budget which is Php1.2 billion.

In her speech, she cited the DA’s efforts to increase the local dairy production such as building multiplier farms in at least 1,000 communities in the country and crafting a five-year roadmap for livestock and dairy development which aims to increase the national cattle population from 2.5 million to 5 million, and raise milk production from one percent to 10 percent of the national requirement.

She also noted that each player in the livestock and dairy industries has to work together and implement the 2018 action plan in order to realize the common goal of milk self-sufficiency. She is hoping that the dairy sector will be the first to reach self-sufficiency among the agricultural sectors.

The dairy congress which adopted the theme “Moving towards Milk Self Sufficiency,” also bared for the Bohol farmers, the strategic road map that the agriculture sector adopted to realize the dream of transforming Bohol into becoming the “dairy capital of the country.”

Meanwhile, PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel del Barrio accentuated the contribution of carabao’s milk in the dairy industry. He stressed that prior to the creation of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), there were no so-called dairy carabaos nor was there a significant carabao’s milk production in the country.

“In 2017, based on the Philippine Statistics Authority, carabao’s milk contributed 35% to the local dairy production. It was an outcome of our efforts for 25 years,” he voiced out.

Dr. Del Barrio also posted a challenge to the DairyCon to open their arms and include the emerging and independent players of the dairy industry.

“The challenge is to increase more our local dairy production with the help of others as we cannot do it alone. We have to include everyone, everybody, and every partner which we think would be of help for us to develop the dairy industry,” he stressed.

The DairyConEx, through its plenary sessions, served as a platform for the exchange of strategies and insights on how to better address the pressing issues that the industry is facing as well as the needs of farmers, especially the smallholders, in terms of knowledge sharing, technology-transfer, post-harvest handling and market development.

Topics presented by PCC officials during the gathering were the “Best Practices on Carabao-based Dairy Enterprise in the Province of Bohol” by PCC at Ubay Stock Farm Center Director Dr. Caro Salces and dairy farmers and entrepreneurs Marilou Rojo, Grace Boyles, and Jesusa Danila; “Advances in Livestock Reproduction and their Potentials in Enhancing Dairy Production” by Dr. Eufrocina Atabay, PCC Scientist I; and “The Use of Non-Conventional Feedstuffs as Alternative Ingredients in the Preparation of Total Mixed Ration (TMR) for Dairy Animals” by PCC at Central Luzon State University Center Director Dr. Daniel Aquino.

Organized and held annually by the DairyCon of the Philippines, the congress was aimed at encouraging people to go into dairying to create wealth, livelihood and share the benefits of economic development nationwide. The ultimate goal is to create a permanent sector for dairy with globally competitive professional dairymen and farm workers.

Co-organizer of the event was the DA through the NDA with the PCC as co-sponsor.

Agencies gear up for GM animals through regulatory training

In 2017, a breed of fast-growing Atlantic salmon became the first genetically modified (GM) animal to be sold to Canadian consumers. It is also the first transgenic animal to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human consumption after 25 years of regulatory lobbying. The said fish, a variety of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), is engineered to grow faster than its non-genetically modified counterpart.

In preparation for the eventual entry of GM salmon, animals and by-products to the Philippine market, the Biotechnology Program Office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-BPO), in collaboration with the Livestock Biotechnology Center, held a capability training on GM animals last April 11-13, 2018 at the Philippine Carabao Center National Headquarters and Gene Pool, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

Regulatory officers from DENR, DILG, DOST and DOH participated in lecture-discussions and laboratory hands-on training to refresh their knowledge on basic molecular biology techniques, be updated about the state-of-the-art GM animal development in foreign countries and presented with relevant domestic laws and policies pertinent to the use and regulation of GM animals.

“International trade will make it possible for GM salmon or similar products to reach Philippine shores, unfortunately, our system is not ready. This training is a step towards establishing a regulatory for GM animals,” said DA-Biotechnology Program Assistant Director Analyn L. Lopez in her opening address.

The said activity aims to capacitate representatives of the agencies previously involved in the Joint Department Circular 1, series of 2016 on the “Rules and Regulations for the Research and Development, Handling and Use, Transboundary Movement, Release into the Environment, and Management of Genetically-Modified Plant and Plant and Plant Products Derived from the Use of Modern Biotechnology” to help the Philippine government to put in place animal biotechnology regulatory mechanisms for the possible arrival of GM animals in the country.

The recently concluded training is tagged as a build-up activity of the upcoming 14th National Biotechnology Week (NBW) celebration, with the theme, “Bioteknolohiya: Pambansang Hamon, Pambansang Solusyon”.

The National Biotechnology Week is celebrated every last week of November by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1414, s. 2007.

Annual ‘Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival’ attests strong ties among farmers, public, others

“The continuous celebration of ‘Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival’ is an indication of our active partnership, collaboration, and unity.”

This was emphasized by PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel N. Del Barrio in his message during the celebration of the 12th Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival held last May 9 in Talavera, Nueva Ecija.

He added that the reason for the sustainable celebration of “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival” is due to the unified efforts of both public and private sectors, national agencies, local and provincial government units, and farmers.

The municipal government of Talavera was this year’s host of the festival. The celebration coincided with the observance of the feast of the town’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, and “Farmer’s Week”.

Dr. Del Barrio, in his address, gave a gist of the PCC’s program and efforts in sustaining carabao production and population in the country and in its pursuit of helping improve the lives of smallhold farming families.

He said the farmers can benefit in tending upgraded carabaos as these are sturdier work animals, better milk providers and meatier sources of food than the native carabaos.

“Once they (the farmers) start milking their carabaos, they start earning daily income. This is what we want all of you to know that there is profit out of dairying. Hence, PCC will continue to sustain its program in order to help many more farmers,” he added.

As an affirmation of the benefits of carabao dairying, Michael Pascual, who once was a tricycle driver and now one of the progressive farmers in Talavera, shared his testimony on how the PCC’s program helped him and his family improve their daily living.

“I can say that carabao raising is indeed a beneficial venture and I think PCC has done its job well in implementing its program. I am one of the many lives that PCC has touched and changed,” Pascual declared.

He added that because of the income from the milk sales, he is now financially able to send his children to good schools, provide his family’s needs, and he even afforded to buy their own car.

In partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the annual “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival” aims to promote carabao’s milk not only for its economic benefits but also for its important contributions to the health and nutrition of small-hold dairy farmers and their families as well as milk consumers in general.

The highlight of the celebration was the ceremonial slicing of the 180 x 112 x 4cm (LxWxH) kesong puti (white cottage cheese), which used 400kg of carabao’s milk prepared by PCC.

As a tradition in every “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival”, representatives from different government agencies and LGUs led the symbolic “tagay pugay” (toast of salutation) with schoolchildren. This gesture was meant to symbolize the recognition of the importance of carabao’s milk in enhancing the health of people who partake of it and its contribution toward improving the economic well-being of the Filipino dairy farmers.

The yearly “Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival” is made possible through a technical working group participated in by DTI, PCC, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA) as well as the provincial and local government units.

Meanwhile, the municipality of Talavera, thru the initiative of Mayor Nerivi Martinez, is planning to apply to set a record next year in the “Guinness World Records” for the title “Biggest Kesong Puti in the Philippines”.

Other activities included in the celebration were ecumenical service, trade fair, colorful street dances performed by high school students in Talavera and a special dance number from PCC mascots “Kalaboy” and “Kalagirl”.

PCC conducts another round of facilitator’s workshop on Farmer Livestock School

Twenty-five participants completed an 11-day learning event for facilitators under the Farmer Livestock School on Dairy Buffalo Production (FLS-DBP) project conducted by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) last April 16-30, 2018.

Eight of them were PCC regional centers’ staff members, seven were Local Government Unit officials, and 10 were progressive farmers from South and North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, La Union, Pangasinan, and Ilocos Norte.

The learning event was aimed at enhancing the delivery of extension support, education, and training services (ESETS) of PCC towards participatory technology development and eventual adoption or utilization by village-based dairy buffalo farmers.

“A series of lectures with actual demonstration, workshops, field exposure and hands-on activities aimed at equipping of participants with knowledge and skills as facilitators on FLS-DBP were featured in the learning event,” Dr. Eric Palacpac, Information Officer V and FLS-DBP project leader, said.

The FLS-DBP project adopted a platform for trainers and participants to learn interactively by exchanging ideas and breaking the teacher-student barrier.

The participants underwent six training courses, as prepared by the module developers from the PCC. These courses were: (1) Preparing Facilitators for FLS Implementation; (2) Mobilizing Communities for FLS; (3) Raising Healthy and Productive Dairy Buffalo; (4) Building Enterprises from Buffalo; (5) Participatory Technology Development; and (6) Participatory Tools to Measure FLS Effects and Impacts.

“As one of the expected outputs of this training, LGU-partners will be the lead implementers of this learning platform in their respective areas with the village-based dairy buffalo farmers as participants,” Dr. Palacpac emphasized.

He added that the good thing about this training is that “we do not impose on the farmers to adopt the technologies, instead, they will learn about various technology options and choose and adopt which is (are) appropriate or suitable to their local conditions.”

The learning event was organized by the PCC’s Knowledge Management Division under Dr. Palacpac. FLS-DBP module developers from the PCC National Headquarters and PCC at Central Luzon State University served as facilitators. Project staff members Ms. Rovelyn T. Jacang and Mr. Erwin M. Valiente, served as members of the secretariat cum facilitators.