PCC strengthens carabao sanctuary in Calayan Island, Cagayan

Revisiting the carabao sanctuary in Calayan Island, a 15-hour travel by land from the Philippine Carabao Center headquarters in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, one would immediately feel relieved of the long haul because of the raw beauty that is awaiting to be revealed! A warm greeting from a Calayano even makes the long trip worthwhile.

A team of PCC researchers had this firsthand experience during the “Calayan Kalabawan: Pagbabalik Tanaw” which was held in the island last April 22-24. The team included PCC at Cagayan State University (PCC at CSU) Center Director and Senior Science Research Specialist Franklin Rellin and Edelina Rellin, respectively and PCC national headquarters science researchers for DABIOTECHR1506 (DA-BAR & DA-Biotechnology Program) Lilian Villamor, Aivhie Jhoy Escuadro, and Therese Patricka Cailipan.

The revisit was part of PCC’s continuing effort to support the local farmers and local government units (LGUs) since the island was first explored as a sanctuary for swamp buffaloes in 2015. Among the impor tant matters that were tackled with key stakeholders included the carabao-based program, species identification of a distinct Calayan swamp population, and overseeing the construction of the PCC communal animal facility in the island.

Officials and representatives from LGUs and carabao owners in nine barangays including Balatubat, Cabudadan, Centro 2, Dadao, Dibay, Dilam, Magsidel, Minabel, and Poblacion participated in the

activity. The goal was for PCC to select and buy at least 31 bulls from the local farmers for use as initial stocks for conservation.

The on-site inventory for bull selection was based on genetically identified animals as swamp buffaloes and according to morphologic traits such as height at withers, heart girth, and body length.

With the aim of the project to identify and discriminate breeds of native carabaos in the Philippines, Calayan swamp buffaloes in the area were previously included to establish the morphological traits and to collect blood samples for molecular characterization.

Preliminary results of the analysis identify the Calayan swamp buffalo as a significantly distinct breed in Luzon. This provides baseline information to understand the genetic diversity of the species in the country toward a strategic breed conservation, management, and utilization.

Lino Llopis, the Municipal Agriculture Officer of Calayan, said, “This new information about native carabaos will continue to motivate farmers to protect and strengthen the health, nutrition, and propagation of their animals.”

Meanwhile, the communal animal facility intended for the conservation of the native swamp buffalo is currently being built on 100 hectares of land donated by the LGU of Calayan and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The facility can accommodate at least 40 native carabaos, which will be the initial stocks for breeding and conservation.

Complementing this animal facility is an office that will host PCC researchers and technical personnel who will be visiting the island from time to time to oversee the development of the sanctuary.

“After five years, we will have a known breed or Calayan native carabao produced from the young bulls. We can collect fresh semen from these bulls so that artificial insemination can be done simultaneously with the selection,” Director Rellin shared his vision about the program.

He added that calves that will not be selected for breeding will be fattened for draft purposes or for meat processing. Trainings and other development interventions will be conducted in support of the program.

While it takes a long trip to get to the island, the vision to transform Calayan into a vibrant community of progressive native carabao owners is not far-fetched with the locals’ positive outlook of the Carabao Development Program. With PCC at the helm, this vision is sure to come into fruition.

PCC researchers reap awards in scientific convention

A number of researchers from the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) received various awards and recognitions during the 55th Scientific Seminar and Annual Convention of the Philippine Society of Animal Science (PSAS) held on October 16-19 at the Grand Menseng Hotel in Davao City.

Dr. Eric P. Palacpac, chief of PCC’s Knowledge Management Division, was bestowed the “PSAS Outstanding Professional in Animal Science Extension” award in recognition of his leadership in spearheading various learning platforms and development of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for the benefit of the carabao-raising sector.

On the other hand, Dr. Marvin A. Villanueva, PCC’s Senior Science Research Specialist, was hailed as the “2018 PSAS-UNAHCO, Inc. Outstanding Young Professional in Animal Science” awardee for his innovative researches that led to the development of technologies particularly on animal health.

Three papers from the PCC also won the “Best Paper” award under different categories.

Dr. Ma. Wynne A. Pagaduan’s study “Monitoring of Aflatoxin M1 and Dairy Farm Management of Water Buffalo” was chosen as the “Best Paper” under the applied research category. The other authors of the study were Dr. Villanueva and Gemerlyn G. Garcia.

The study “Effect of Different Prostaglandin (PGF2) Analogues during Synchronization in Dairy Buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis)” conducted and presented by Rebecca Ruby G. Gabriel of PCC at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), bagged the same award under the biotechnology category. Her co-authors were Dr. Eufrocina P. Atabay, Dr. Edwin C. Atabay, Dr. Jessica Gay M. Ortiz, Dr. Edgar A. Orden, and Jhon Paul R. Apolinario.

Finally, the study “Identification of Bacterial Community in Mastitic Milk Water from Buffalo in Selected Cooperatives of the National Impact Zone Using PCR and DGGE Method” presented by Paula Blanca Gaban was chosen the “Best Paper” under the disease and diagnostics category. The other authors of the study were Dr. Claro N. Mingala, Niña Rica A. Pagaduan, and Jervin R. Undan.

During the convention, different papers were presented under various categories, which included anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, nutrition, applied research, undergraduate thesis, breeding and genetics, biotechnology, disease and diagnostics, production and processing, socio-economic, and development.

More than 10 posters were exhibited during the course of the scientific sessions.

In the election for the governing council members and PSAS chapter officers for 2018-2019, Dr. Synan S. Baguio of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) was elected vice president and is automatically the incoming president after next year’s convention.

During the closing ceremony, Dr. Enrico Supangco, PSAS incumbent president turned over the flag of responsibility to Dr. Ester B. Flores, head of PCC’s Animal Genomics and Bioinformatics Unit, the incoming PSAS president.

Dr. Flores bared her plans and directions saying: “I can probably promise that we, the association and the governing council, will try to cultivate more or expand the reach or even the collaborations and the linkage of PSAS outside the country.”

She added that they will also have more collaborative activities with their local chapters and that they would want and plan to formally have PSAS as a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provider both for veterinarians and agriculturists.

Addressing the new members of the association which are mostly “millennials”, she said: “It is also high time that the PSAS will move forward a bit more to become tech-savvy by exploring the use of internet and electronically-based services for registration and member’s database, among others.”

“We will try to explore that because that is what we will be needing now that we are in the internet age,” she further said.

The PSAS is a professional non-profit organization comprised of veterinarians, animal scientists and practitioners in related fields across the country conducting researches relevant to the developments in the field of animal science. Its annual scientific seminar and convention serves as venue for knowledge-sharing through presentations of scientific papers and posters as well as plenary sessions tackling issues and challenges confronting the industry.

This year’s convention revolved on the theme “Animal Health Management: A Critical Control Point for Food Safety”, which was meant to highlight the role of animal producers in providing nutritious and safe food for Filipino families.

Over 500 representatives from across the industry and academe participated in the annual convention.

Practical technologies, best practices on livestock production underscored in livestock industry’s 3-in-1 event

Exemplars of good practices and technologies on dairy, swine, poultry, and waste management were presented and aptly discussed during the 1st Livestock Technology Expo held last October 7-10 at the Bohol Cultural Center in Tagbilaran City.

With the theme “Masaganang Paghahayupan sa Teknolohiyang Maaasahan”, the exposition was conducted simultaneously with two other events: the 4th National Carabao Conference and the 4th Bohol Milk Festival.

The three-in-one event was organized by the Department of Agriculture and its livestock agencies comprised of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), Agricultural Training Institute- International Training Center on Pig Husbandry (ATI-ITCPH), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), National Dairy Authority (NDA), and National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS). It was held in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Bohol and the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

“We’ve observed that we conducted so many researches in the previous years but none of those seemed to reach the farmers. That’s why we are holding this activity, with the harmonization of all livestock agencies to make sure that all the researches that we conduct will reach and benefit the farmers,” Assistant Secretary for Livestock Enrico Garzon Jr. said.

He added that it will be useless if farmers wouldn’t be informed about those researches and technologies.

He believes that with the utilization of apt technologies, farmers will be more productive.

PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel del Barrio, on the other hand, encouraged farmers not to be afraid of the new and modern technologies because the adoption and implementation of these technologies will also help promote and develop the livestock industry as well as their own endeavors.

“The technologies that we have here are already proven and tested. They are ready-to-use,” he averred.

He added: “We all have our technologies and best practices to share that’s why we are gathered here to learn from one another and from our speakers, which include stakeholders and value chain players in the livestock industry.”

The event featured plenaries and panel discussions on “Pamamahala ng Kooperatiba tungo sa Maunlad na Negosyong Kalabawan (Proper Management of Cooperative toward a Progressive Carabao-based Enterprise)” by Ma. Elena Limocon, General Manager of Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative; “Kahanga-hangang mga Magsasaka sa Kalabawan (Best Practices of Champion Farmers)” by Henry Orbino, 2017 PCC Outstanding Dairy Farmer; and “Kahanga-hangang mga Produkto at Negosyo sa Gatas (Dairy Products and Enterprises)” by Erika Ng Wong of Karabella Dairy.

Panel discussions of exemplary technologies on NDA Communal Farming Scheme, Waste Management, Itik Pinas, and Native Chicken were also conducted. Other technologies discussed and presented were Lactic Acid Bacterial Solution, Silage Making, Uterine Flushing, and Mozarella and Butter production.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food who served as the guest of honor during the event, commended the dairy industry of Bohol specifically referring to the town of Ubay, where she met a group of women-dairy farmers. She noted that the province is worthy of the title “Dairy Capital of the Philippines”.

She also urged farmers to organize their own associations or cooperatives, and learn how to process and market their harvested milk and resulting products development.

“I hope that through this kind of gathering, we will be able to teach our farmers to be more knowledgeable, competitive and profitable,” she said.

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

“I strongly endorsed the allotment of a higher budget for livestock and poultry during the Senate deliberations on the 2018 budget of the DA. I will do my best for the enactment of a relevant bill that I authored very soon. This is the only way we can help our dairy farmers improve their income and livelihood,” she stressed.

She also extended her gratitude to the farmers present in the event saying: “Without you, we Filipinos, won’t be able to eat meat and dairy products, so keep up your good work because you are our hope toward a sustainable livestock and dairy industry.”

The tri-fold event was participated in by more than a thousand participants composed of farmers, members of different cooperatives and associations, students, and  stakeholders of the livestock industry across the country.

Stronger Harmonization of EAS efforts urged

The PCC’s Knowledge Management Division staff and representatives from various agencies and local government units all over the Philippines broaden view on various efforts on Extension and Advisory Services (EAS) last October 3-4 in the annual Philippine Extension and Advisory Services Network Inc. (PhilEASNet) Extension Policy Symposium at the Heritage Hotel Manila, Pasay City.

With the theme “Strengthening the Harmonization of the Philippine Extension and Advisory Services for Sustainable Development”, the symposium was anchored on engaging EAS practitioners in discourse, raise awareness on expanding EAS, render policy recommendations and explore strategic alliances.

“We hope to enhance our competencies in doing extension through a conversation with experts who will be sharing challenges and opportunities towards harmonizing extension” said Dr. Karen Eloisa Barroga, PhilEASNet president.

The explored cases as discussed by practitioners at the national level delved on the fields of Fisheries, Livestock, Agrarian Reform, Food and Nutrition, Trade and Industry, Community Development (NGO), Forestry and Natural Resources, and Technical and Vocational Education.

“In the nitty-gritty world of extension and advisory services, we put premium on people who can integrate everything” Dr. Segfredo Serrano, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Policy and Planning, underscored in his keynote speech.

He further challenged participants to “catch (engage) the youth” and be bolder in addressing new resolutions and recommendations by the invited field experts as well as practitioners who are willing to listen and interact to make initiatives happen.

In this regard, the attendees participated in a workshop aimed at rendering policy recommendations. They were subdivided into four groups, each of which was assigned specific topics namely capability building, knowledge management, partnership, and governance and enabling environment.

The two-day symposium was spearheaded by PhilEASNet national and its MIMAROPA chapter officers. PhilEASNet’s primary mission is to enhance competency and promote ethical standards among professionals engaged in the practice, research, instruction and policy advocacy on EAS.

Co-sponsors of the event are PCC, Agricultural Training Institute, Bureau of Agricultural Research, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development, PhilRice-Philippine Rice Information System, and Asia Pacific Islands Rural Advisory Services Network.



440 carabaos paraded during annual ‘Nuang Festival’ in San Agustin, Isabela

In keeping with the assiduous celebration of San Agustin town’s “Nuang Festival”, proud owners of hundreds of crossbreds and native carabaos paraded their hulking animals along the streets of the town last September 28.

Their 440 crossbreds and native carabaos “blackened” the streets where they were paraded. Majority of them are crossbreds which are products of continuing crossbreeding program in that town.

The parade was one of the highlights of the twin celebrations of San Agustin – the “14th Nuang Festival” and the commemoration of the town’s “69th Araw ng San Agustin” (founding day).

“Nuang” is an Ilocano term for carabao. The festival is a much-anticipated occasion for carabao-owners as they are given the chance to flaunt their beloved crossbreds at the center stage of the festivities. It serves also as an occasion for gaining public recognition of their significant achievement in participating and sustaining a program designed for the improvement of the breed of native carabaos.

No doubt, the crossbreeding efforts in this town have already paid off as evidenced by the 2,068-head crossbreds inventoried by a research team at the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC). The said research project is funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

The town is long girding to be called the “Crossbred Carabao Capital of the Philippines.”

The increasing number of crossbred carabaos in San Agustin has been made possible through the continuous efforts of the town’s local government unit to implement the use of artificial insemination (A.I.) program specifically for the production of improved breed of carabaos.

Thousands of the town’s carabao owners partnered with the PCC and various agencies and entities for the crossbreeding program.

In the recently held “Nuang Festival”, competitions involving the crossbreds were also held. The titles vied for were “Best Buffalo in Milk Production”, “Best Dairy Caracow”, “Best Dressed Buffalo for female”, and “Best Draft Carabao for native male”.

The owners of the winning carabao crossbreds received cash prizes. The farmers who participated in the parade, likewise, were given Php300 each as incentive.

Four officials of PCC took part in the event and spoke during the program. They were Dr. Annabelle Sarabia, Research for Development Division Chief at PCC National Headquarters and Gene Pool; Ma. Theresa Sawit, PCC Head of Socio Economics and Policy Research; and Prof. Franklin Rellin and Edelina Rellin, Center Director and Senior Science Research Specialist of PCC at Cagayan State University, respectively.

Concerting efforts in organizing the Nuang Festival were accorded by Hon. Virgilio Padilla, Municipal Vice Mayor and Acting Municipal Mayor; Joel Pascual, Sangguniang Bayan Member; Engr. Blas Lamug, Municipal Agriculturist, and the whole local government unit of San Agustin town.