All for the love of buffaloes
Unique practices in dairy buffalo production

The couple, Benedicto “Benny” dela Torre, 55, and Evelyn, 38, of barangay Pulong Buhangin, Santa Maria, Bulacan, has peculiar practices in conveying their sincere and profound love for their buffaloes.

This unique show of special concern for their dairy buffaloes, to their estimation, undoubtedly resulted in favorable returns to their lives.

As one proof, when one of their buffaloes got sick, Benny immediately headed to the church and prayed profoundly for the welfare of his buffalo.

He believed that his prayers and the appropriate medicine he gave to his ill-stricken buffalo made his animal recover from its ailment soon enough.

The breeds of their buffaloes are Bulgarian, Italian, Indian Murrah and crossbred. Although their buffaloes are usually confined, with cut-and-carry feeding system, Benny also tethers them to graze in a pasture area and for them to experience the natural environment.

In the corral, he installed a pipeline for the ready supply of drinking water for the animals and for bathing needs. If the animals are tethered, they also provide clean water to each one of them.

According to Benny, there was a time when he ran out of water rations for his animal. He instantly went to the nearest store to buy a gallon of mineral water for his grazing buffaloes.

Based on the narration of the couple, from 5:00 in the morning up to 8:00 in the evening, their attention is focused on rearing their buffaloes. They regularly provide them with vitamins and proper check-up.

“When they are tethered, we roam around the pasture area to check on them one by one. We also visit them at night, as this is the time we usually notice if the animal is not well. If we notice so, we immediately call a veterinarian to diagnose the ailment and apply the necessary treatment.  Although I have basic knowledge on first-aid treatment for buffaloes, I want to make sure that a veterinarian should attend to any of our sick animals,” Benny said.

For Evelyn, she considers their buffaloes as true members of their family. She said, it is necessary to have a genuine compassion for animals and that these animals demand time and attention from the caretakers as well.

Their special love and care for their buffaloes are not in vain. The buffaloes give them in return much milk whose proceeds are used to support the educational needs of their children. The couple also has invested in other businesses such as rice farming and delivery of construction materials. They have also acquired four motorcycles, one owner-type jeep, another house, small pieces of land, and one truck.

They have 30 dairy buffaloes.

Mobile milking parlor

Another unique practice of the couple is that they use their old jeep as a milking parlor for their buffaloes.

According to Benny, with his “mobile milking parlor” he is more confident about the sanitation of their undertaking as he can situate the vehicle in a place with clean, odorless, and refreshing site for milking.

“I took notice of other farmers who milk their buffaloes in the same place where the animals are confined. If we apply that practice, we cannot be sure of the sanitation due to the buffalo’s manure and urine which, even if we clean it, the bad odor is already stuck in there. Hence, I keep my lactating animals away from the corral when milking them and that’s why I thought of using a mobile milking parlor,” Benny explained.

Benny admitted that at first, he had a hard time coaxing their buffaloes to ride on the jeepney. Thus, he patiently trained each one of them in going up and coming down from the vehicle. He observed that the animals were hesitant to climb up the jeepney as they could sense something may happen to them.

As the animals get used to it, it became a habitual practice for them to ride on the mobile milking parlor. Every time they climb over, there are already feeds and drinking water prepared for them onboard as their rewards.

“I bathe them on the jeepney then gently rub their head to relax them,” Benny said.

After milking, the animals are ushered back to the corral.

Currently, they have four lactating buffaloes. They only collect four liters of milk daily from each buffalo because they let the calves consume the remaining milk from the udder.

Empathy for others

Benny and Evelyn both came from a buffalo farming family. Thus, they consider this venture as something good since they experienced it from their respective families.

The two underwent difficulties in their lives before. But when the opportunity came, they grabbed it and considered it as a big blessing.

The couple bought a crossbred which they named “Kulasa”.  In due time, they were able to increase the number of their herd, with the help of their friend, former barangay captain Simplicio “Plecy” Hermogenes.

They became members of the Sta. Maria Dairy Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative where they sell their harvested milk to. In addition, they get assistance from the National Dairy Authority (NDA).

Wanting to share their fortune to other farmers in the neighborhood, they instituted their own “paiwi” system. So far, eight farmers are benefiting from their entrusted animals.

“We still want to increase the number of our buffaloes. We want to help other farmers through our ‘paiwi’ system. However, we noticed that artificial insemination is not working well in our place, that’s why we hope to avail of the bull loan program,” Benny said.

“Before, no one wanted to entrust their buffalo to me because I was poor. So, what we are doing now is the other way around. We help others because we don’t want them to experience the difficulties we went through before,” he added.

Evelyn shared their principle in life that serves as their mantra to always remain humble and compassionate for the needy.

“Every time I recall how we struggled before, when we used to sleep on mats of carton and starve for food, I cannot help but thank the Lord for the blessings we enjoy now. Buffalo dairying has improved our lives and we want it to share to others by helping them become dairy farmers, too,” Evelyn averred.

Benny and Evelyn have some unusual practices and principle in dairy buffalo production. As they continuously apply them, they expect that more blessings will come to their lives.

Effective breeding, pregnancy detection on dairy buffaloes key to a better gain

A common challenge faced by dairy farmers is to have their dairy buffaloes pregnant and, after calving, to see them get pregnant again in the shortest time possible. This is because they have no income if their animals are not lactating, which only happens if the animals give birth.

To address this concern, a project of PCC and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) titled “Development of Reproductive Management Program for Increased Efficiency of Artificial Insemination (AI) in Dairy Buffaloes” was launched.

“The project aims to not only increase efficiency in breeding dairy buffaloes but to shorten their calving interval to improve productivity using the Triple E strategy,” said Dr. Edwin Atabay who spearheads the project. Joining him in the project are Dr. Eufrocina Atabay, Dr. Jessica Gay Ortiz, Jhon Paul Apolinario, and Erwin Encarnacion.

The meaning of “Triple E” strategy is “Enhancing Pregnancy Rate”, “Effective Rebreeding Program” and “Early Detection of Pregnancy”.

The project is anchored on increasing the pregnancy rate among dairy buffaloes using a more effective AI. It also delves on early detection of pregnancy and in increasing the income from dairying by shortening the calving interval.

According to Dr. Edwin Atabay, AI efficiency went up to 35-40% from 20-25% during the conduct of the project. It is being carried out in Nueva Ecija, the designated “National Impact Zone for Buffalo Dairying” and San Agustin, Isabela.

Dairy buffaloes with body condition scores of 3-4 and have ovary size of about 2 cm containing dominant follicle with more than 7mm diameter were selected for the project.

Big help to farmers

“Unlike in the past, in which I had to wait for two to three years before my dairy buffaloes become pregnant again, now at least one became pregnant in a relatively shorter time and this ensures me of milk production,” Eddie Allado, a dairy farmer from San Agustin, Isabela, said.

He is among the buffalo raisers who were selected to be part of the project.

According to him, in his almost one decade as a dairy farmer, the propagation of his buffaloes from four to sixteen was all through AI and now through Fixed Time AI (FTAI).

“Since the start of the on-site conduct of the project, the number of farmers of San Agustin that choose FTAI gradually increased because they saw that it is effective,” Dr. Atabay said.

Based on the data recorded last year, the project’s team had conducted FTAI to 609 purebred buffaloes in the NIZ and 122 crossbred buffaloes in San Agustin.

“Because my dairy buffaloes propagated, milk production increased and my income in dairy went up,” Allado said. In three dairy buffaloes, he collects 12-13 liters and earns more than Php100,000 in eight months.

Apart from providing the needs of his family, he was also able to slowly improve his house and had bought two motorcycles from the daily income he gets from dairying.

Progressing the Project

According to Dr. Jessica Gay Ortiz, one of Project 2 team members, the estrous cycle of a dairy buffalo was studied thoroughly to determine and optimize the methods that will be used in breeding as well as in pregnancy detection. The methods were used at the PCC’s Gene Pool before being conducted in their target sites.

“We need to increase the conception rate to utilize the maximum potential of the dairy buffaloes,” Dr. Edwin Atabay said.

To determine pregnancy in the fastest time possible, ultrasonography or ultrasound and protein-associated glycoprotein (PAG) assay were used.

In using the said technologies, the calving interval, which can reach about two years or even more may be reduced by up to six months. Hence, the potential income of the farmer can be nearly Php45,000.

“In ultrasound, it is possible to detect pregnancy within 30 days and in PAG assay, after 28 days compared to rectal palpation, which is usually done within two to three months,” Dr. Ortiz said.

According to Dr. Ortiz, the dairy buffaloes need to be pregnant in the earliest time possible after parturition to avoid losing income since, during this time, the farmer spends money on the needs of the dairy buffaloes and no returns are gained. She added that it is also better to use ultrasound because “early embryonic death” can be determined.

This circumstance, she said, happens when the dairy buffalo experienced abortion. The farmer cannot notice this because there are no signs shown physically. Thus, the farmer once again experiences loss of income.

“Ultrasonography has added benefits such as fetal sexing and the ability to characterize the uterus, fetus, and the ovary,” Dr. Atabay added.

Though nearing the end of the project, the initiatives of the team members are continuously being intensified to meet the project’s objectives.

In the heels of rice tariffication
PCC exec’s advice to rice farmers: Integrate carabao dairying

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ – Farmers who are worrying about possible lowering of their income due to the effects of the Republic Act 11203, or the rice trade liberalization law may engage in other income-generating projects right in their own backyard.

One such project is carabao dairying, suggested Dr. Arnel del Barrio, executive director of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), here.

“In due time, the tended animals can give daily income because of their milk yield,” Dr. del Barrio said. “As the animals grow in number, the income may be comparable or even better than in rice farming,” he added.

He also said that the farmers may set aside certain areas on their farm to grow corn and sorghum plants for silage-making for carabao feed which is now in great demand.

“We have examples of farmers and entrepreneurs who made good in carabao dairying and rice farming at the same time and in silage-making,” the PCC executive director, who was interviewed at the sideline of the recent consultation here with stakeholders about the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the new law, said.

The consultation, attended by select stakeholders from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and from Regions 1, 2 and 3, was organized by the Department of Agriculture, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and other agencies.

Citing as an example, Dr. del Barrio said Melchor Correa, 47, of San Jose City who, from subsistence farming, made good in carabao dairying.

Then engaged in rice production during the rainy season and vegetable growing during the dry season, Melchor revealed that his income then could hardly suffice for the needs of his growing family. He said he incurred loans even from loan sharks.

Then he heard about the Carabao Development Program of PCC which entrusts to cooperative purebred dairy buffaloes to serve as modular undertaking for dairying. One of the services of PCC to promote carabao development is the assistance for the development of carabao-based enterprises.

“From one, he built a herd of 30 dairy buffaloes, with some of them lactating,” Dr. del Barrio said. “His buffaloes’ average daily milk yield recorded the other year was 57 liters which he sold for Php54 each liter or Php3,028,” he added.

The cooperative, which he was then the chair, recorded a milk harvest of 145,099.50 liters valued at Php7,254,982.50. The milk harvest was from 91 carabaos.

Or take this case of a young man, Moises Alfonso, 25, of San Jose City, who is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation. He discarded his dream of seeing the world as a sailor and boldly took over the carabao dairying and rice farming enterprises of his family.

“Moises saw how his late father, Carlito, then a subsistence farmer, engaged in carabao dairying and how he improved their family life through these enterprises,” Dr. del Barrio said. “When his father got sick, this young man did not hesitate to take over in managing their dairy farm and their rice farm,” he added.

Citing the record of Moises, the PCC executive director said Moises is now tending a herd of 51 and a few hectares of their rice farm.

“From dairying, the income of their family’s enterprise is Php2,000 to Php4,000 a day depending on the number of the lactating animals,” Dr. Del Barrio said.

Moises, he said, set aside a portion of their rice field for the growing of their animals’ feed.

As for the marketing of the carabao’s milk, the market for it is growing bigger as many establishments are doing milk-based products.

In addition, there is a new law Republic Act 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act,” that institutionalizes a national feeding program for undernourished children in public day care, kindergarten and elementary schools.

The milk for  the  feeding program will be bought  from the farmers’ cooperatives, hence a big demand for locally produced milk.

The PCC executive director said that farmers can set aside a portion of their rice field for growing of forages such as improved grasses, corn and sorghum plants for silage-making or carabao feed.

“It’s a very lucrative business enterprise now,” he said.

Isagani Cajucom of Lupao, is a chemical technician who was previously working in a company in Clark Freeport proved that there is high demand for silage and the income is very good. He was the “champion farmer” or farmer leader who participated in the project “Commercialization of Grass/Forage Corn Silage for Dairy Buffaloes through Technomart” launched by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), where he saw a big opportunity in the production of quality silage.

“Isagani tried first his silage-making venture by growing corn and napier in his farm. He sold his harvest to PCC and earned Php13,000 for his napier grass silage and Php20,000 for his corn silage,” Dr. del Barrio said.

In his second cycle of planting and ensiling of corn, he harvested 34,000 kg which was sold at Php1.84 per kilogram. That was a cool profit of approximately Php62,000 for his one-hectare farm.

He observed that the appropriate age of forage corn for harvest is between 75 and 80 days or when the corn kernel has about two-thirds milk-line (a distinct horizontal line that appears near the end of the corn kernel).

The chopped corn plants including the ears are stored in a polyethylene sack with a capacity of 20-30 kg, for about three weeks before marketing or feeding to animals.

Today, Isagani is selling on peak season 380 tons of silage and sells it at Php4.00 per kilogram.

The main advantages of corn silage production, he said, are: it is not season-dependent as it can be done any time when there is forage abundance; it does not require sophisticated equipment, the shelf-life and quality of silage remain stable under longer storage time, and it can be prepared easily under small or commercial scale.

In the consultation about rice tariffication, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that under the law, anybody who has secured a phytosanitary clearance from the DA and has paid the tariff duties can import rice.

He admitted that this law, officially titled “An act liberalizing the importation, exportation and trading of rice, lifting for the purpose the quantitative import restriction on rice”, can cause a lowering of the buying price of palay in the country. He added that the rice from some exporting countries can sell their produce at a very low price because of their low production cost.

“But our government is ready to provide assistance to our farmers,” Piñol said.

Dr. del Barrio agreed one hundred percent for not abandoning or lessening the intensity of rice production in the country for, as the Secretary Piñol said, this is a move tantamount to a suicide.

“What is needed is for the farmers to be more competitive in so far as rice production in the country is concerned,” Dr. del Barrio said. “In dairy carabao raising, the farmers need not abandon rice production. They will find it as a complementary enterprise,” he added.

He said the waste of the carabaos can be turned into vermicompost or organic fertilizer that can be used to enhance the fertility of the rice land.

On the other hand, he added, the rice straw after harvest can be collected and turned into good carabao feed.

“Just add urea and molasses to the rice straw, and a nutritious feed for the carabao can be produced,” Dr. del Barrio said.

He said the men and women of PCC, including its top scientists, are ready to assist the farmers who would want to engage in carabao dairying as a source of additional income for their rice farming enterprise.

“We are ready to give training in all aspects of carabao dairying. Our technicians, and those from other agencies are ready to give technical assistance right where carabao dairying venture is located,” Dr. del Barrio said.

Hats off to the latest FLS-DBP graduates

DON CARLOS, BUKIDNON— The Philippine Carabao Center at Central Mindanao University (PCC@CMU), in partnership with the municipality of Don Carlos, spearheaded the first graduation ceremony in Bukidnon on Farmers Livestock School on Dairy Buffalo Production (FLS-DBP) at the Abellanosa’s Learning Site, San Francisco, Don Carlos, Bukidnon on April 11.

The FLS-DBP classes started on August 8, 2018 and ended on April 11, 2019 with Thursday mornings as the scheduled class time. Out of 36 enroIlees, 20 completed the learning modality successfully.

The municipality identified three barangays as target communities of FLS-DBP, namely San Francisco, New Visayas, and Kalubihon.

According to Dr. Elena Paraguas, one of the facilitators, the FLS-DBP aims to empower farmers to engage in dairy buffalo production and apply their learnings on technology options.

“This is not the end of the program but just the beginning. I hope the graduates will use their learnings to venture in profitable dairy buffalo production,” Dr. Paraguas said.

Merlyn Los Baños, municipal agriculturist of Don Carlos, expressed her words of gratitude to the people behind the success of the FLS-DBP.

“I will always be thankful to PCC at CMU for their effort and unwavering support to this program. My salute to the facilitators for their patience in sharing their expertise to our dear graduates,” she said.

Meanwhile, Rovelyn Jacang, science research specialist I of the PCC’s Knowledge Management Division, also graced the event to give a message to the graduates.

“FLS-DBP offers you a range of options to improve your buffalo-based venture. It’s now up to you [graduates] to choose from these array of choices. The ‘real’ training for you begins when you apply your learnings,” Jacang said.

Nida Abellanosa, one of the graduates, shared her experiences throughout the training. She said the training honed her knowledge on dairy buffalo production and that she is excited to try them out in their actual and day-to-day operations.

“I am privileged to be part of this rare opportunity to learn additional technologies and techniques in raising dairy buffaloes,” Abellanosa shared.

On the other hand, Dr. Lowell Paraguas, center director of PCC at CMU, mentioned about the implementation of R.A. 11037 in his closing remarks.

“We call on all the dairy farmers to answer the challenge of the government that we aggressively embark on a wide-scale milk feeding program. As we take on this challenge together, we will be needing more producers of milk to meet the high demand,” he said.

“PCC at CMU is willing to assist and guide you in raising dairy buffaloes. We can’t do it alone without you [graduates],” he added.

From among the participants, the facilitators selected the top 5 to receive gold medals in recognition of their exemplary performance during the training, namely Lauren Aurita, Lourdes Decipolo, Bernalda Aurita, Fredie Janiola, and Nida Abellanosa.

PCC trains outstation IOs

Nineteen Information Officers from the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) regional network were capacitated as news and feature writers and partners in delivering information that can benefit carabao farmers and other stakeholders.

Rowena Bumanlag, Knowledge Management Division-Applied Communication Section Head, said that the number of KMD personnel from the national headquarters who are doing information dissemination jobs is very lean and can only do so much.

“There are many good stories happening on the ground or in our station in the provinces but we seldom document them because of our limited time and number.  Our regional reportage is weak and we want to strengthen it,” she said.

The two-day training is dubbed as ‘Strengthening Reportage of Regional CDP Highlights’ held on March 28-29, 2019 at the PCC National Headquarters and Gene Pool in Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija.

Four communication experts from different institutions served as resource speakers. These include Prof. Ben Domingo Jr., chair of the CHED Technical Committee for Journalism, who facilitated the output critiquing; Dr. Inez Ponce de Leon,  an Assistant Professor from Ateneo de Manila University, who talked on ‘Telling the Stories of Science its More than Just Giving Facts;  Ms. Rowena Paraan, head of Bayan Mo, Ipatrol Mo, who discussed ‘Effective Multi-Platform and Social Media engagement for information dissemination’;  and Mr. Jayson C. Berto, a Multimedia Production Specialist of DA-PhilRice, who facilitated the principles of agriculture photography and videography.

Bumanlag said after the training that the KMD will be requesting the PCC top management to issue a Special Order to all its regional centers to designate their respective Information Officers.

“ It is high time that each station will designate a person who mainly focuses on communication job,” Bumanlag said.

Alongside Bumanlag, other facilitators of the workshop include Dr. Eric Palacpac, KMD chief; Ma. Cecilia Irang, information officer; and Dr. Anselmo Roque, editorial consultant.

The participants of the training include Mark Edcille Canda from LAMAC Multipurpose Cooperative, Christine Helen Adriano from PCC at Central Luzon State University, Aileen Bulusan from PCC at Cagayan State University, Kimberly Turaja from PCC at Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, Marijoan Nefulda from PCC at Mariano Marcos State University, Joela Malijan from PCC at University of the Philippines-Los Baños, Victor Geroche from PCC at La Carlota Stock Farm, Jocer Dam Dolfo from PCC at West Visayas State University, Emy Goritte Gorra from PCC at Visayas State University, Leinefe Aton from PCC at Ubay Stock Farm, Ludivina Estimo from PCC at University of Southern Mindanao, Jeson Candole from PCC at Central Mindanao University, and Dorie Bastatas from PCC at Mindanao Livestock Production Complex.

There were also participants from PCC National Headquarters, which include Khrizie Evert Padre, Chrissalyn Marcelo, Charlene Corpuz, Charlene Joanino, and Jeffrey Laurence Antolin.  Participants from the Department of Agriculture Regional Offices include Evelyn Deligero from Davao region and Justin Aquino from Region 12.

BODACO receives P600k-worth SSF grant

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) thru its Shared Service Facility (SSF) project awarded three units of Soft Ice Cream Machines to Bohol Dairy Cooperative (BODACO) during the launching activity on March 22 at Philippine Carabao Center at Ubay Stock Farm (PCC at USF), Lomangog, Ubay, Bohol.

BODACO requested the Php600,000-worth of equipment to increase its ice cream production, which is one of its highest selling products.

Beforehand, the co-op has two soft ice cream machines donated by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). These are placed in their outlets at the public markets of Ubay and Alicia. According to Shirley Molina, general manager of BODACO, one machine will be added to Alicia outlet while another will replace a malfunctioned unit in Ubay outlet. The placement of the remaining machine, however, is yet to be agreed with the management.

“The challenge now is to increase”, said Dr. Glen Doloricos, representative from the Provincial Government of Bohol as he emphasized that for every grant received, there must be improvements to the co-op and especially to its members.

Dr. Gundolino P. Bajenting, Officer In-Charge of PCC at USF added that the only way to upsurge the milk is to increase the number of farmers milking their carabaos. Furthermore, he committed that PCC will always be supportive of the co-op’s undertakings.

“The approval of the co-op’s proposal didn’t come easy though not also very hard”, according to Marisol Balistoy, OIC-Provincial Director of DTI-Bohol. “It has to undergo series of reviews and validations to ensure that guidelines of the SSF project will not be compromised”, she added.

The SSF project is a major component of DTI’s Micro Small & Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) program that aims to fill-in the production gaps of the existing enterprise to increase its income. Balistoy explained during her statement of the rationale that what qualified BODACO to avail is that the co-op has demonstrated a complete value chain on carabao dairy enterprise. It has raw milk production, toll processing, and marketing operations with the identified gaps.

Though the machines were awarded to the group, the ownership of these however, remains with DTI up to three years, as stipulated in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Afterwards, the co-op can own these upon validation that the project has truly increased the income and the employment of the group.

Lita Aranas, one of the co-op’s Board of Directors who represented the chairman during the launching activity, expressed her gratitude to God for entrusting DTI to grant their ever-dreamt additional facilities. In her acceptance speech, Aranas stated that the co-op wholeheartedly accepts the blessing and the responsibility on the SSF project and commits to properly manage it and make it fruitful with the help of God.

Also extending their supports to the co-op thru their attendance and messages were: Mr. Benedicto Boyles, representing the Mayor of Ubay, Bohol and Ubay Vice-Mayor Nelso Uy.

The machines were tested at the end of the program while giving free soft ice cream to all attendees.

PCC gears up for RA 11037 with ‘Value Chain Players Consultation’

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) conducted the “Value Chain Players Consultation on National School Feeding Program Implementation” last March 28, 2019 at the PCC National Headquarters and Gene Pool, pursuant to the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 11037 or “Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act”.

The activity was organized through concerted efforts of representatives from PCC’s 12 regional centers, the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Nutrition Council (NNC), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA), Carabao-Based Enterprise Development (CBED) coordinators, cooperatives, local government units from Region III and other entities.

With the implementation period nearing, which is on June 2019 onwards, the activity was held to clearly identify the members of the value chain, which are categorized into five groups: milk producers, milk processors, milk distributors, implementers, and capability building group, in order to discuss issues as to how these groups will work together from producing the milk from the carabao, processing it, and distributing it to the intended beneficiaries in their respective regions.

The main issue addressed was the sufficiency of milk to cover the number of children to be fed, with possible solutions suggested such as formulation of a long-term development plan for animal production to breed potential milk producers, close monitoring of day-to-day milk inventory to prevent spoilage, promotion of ‘twice-a-day-milking’, and rental of lactating animals from private individuals, with the goal of increasing milk production.

As per estimate by the DepEd and DSWD, a total of 3.7 million children, need to be fed with fresh milk for 120 days in 100-200mL servings, with a total national requirement of approximately 605,000 liters per day.

The challenges ahead

Milk processors needed to ensure application for the necessary permits, compliance with milk quality and food safety standards, potential upgrading of existing plant facilities, and attendance to relevant training as required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The milk distributors were required to be registered with the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).

On the other hand, implementers were tasked with the observation of the height and weight of the children, whether they correspond with their age requirements.

Members of the capability building group were assigned to coordinate with other government agencies for the provision of credit facilities and learning activities for the other groups to be equipped with required technical, financial, and product knowledge.

Dr. Caro B. Salces, PCC Deputy Executive Director, urged everyone to fully participate and give their best effort in order to minimize, if not eliminate, the problem of malnutrition in the country.

Serrano sees ‘agripreneurship’ to usher more sustainable, progressive industry

“Millions of local farmers, especially entrepreneurs, generate income and will not leave our country. They usher a sustainable and resilient progressive industry,” Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano for Policy and Planning of the Department of Agriculture said in his keynote address during the PCC’s 26th anniversary program held March 27 at the PCC National Headquarters and Gene Pool in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

In attendance during the program were the progressive carabao entrepreneurs or carapreneurs that are being assisted by PCC.

PCC’s anniversary theme “Empowering ‘Carapreneurs’: Our Purpose in Focus” places on spotlight the outstanding carapreneurs who have exemplary testimonies on how the dairy buffalo-based business has empowered them to have a sustainable livelihood.

“We call our farmers as carapreneurs because we wanted them not only to raise buffaloes but to eventually imbibe the entrepreneurial spirit to maximize their profit from the business,” Dr. Arnel del Barrio, PCC executive director, said.

A book titled “25 Faces of Success in Carapreneurship” and a new farmers’ audio-visual presentation were launched during the program to underscore this year’s anniversary theme.

“In these productions, we featured the stories of carabao raisers who are now reaping the bountiful benefits of dairying because of their unrelenting persistence even despite their  struggles,” Rowena Bumanlag, anniversary overall chair and head of the Applied Communication Section of the Knowledge Management Division, said.

USec. Serrano lauded the PCC for ushering empowerment in many farming communities with the buffalo as an instrument of development.

The main highlight of the program was the awarding of outstanding farmers in various categories.

Carlo Magno Abellanosa of Don Carlos, Bukidnon was recognized as the “Best Family Module”; Catalanacan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CAMPCI) of Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija was adjudged “Best Dairy Buffalo Farmer Cooperative”; Erlinda Mercader of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija as “Modelong Juana sa Pagkakalabawan”; and Rolly Richard Zalameda of Ormoc City, Leyte as “Outstanding Kabataan sa Pagkakalabawan”; Leopoldo Marcos of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija as “Outstanding Dairy Buffalo Farmer for Smallhold Category”; Eliseo Mislang of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija as “Outstanding Dairy Buffalo Farmer for Semi-Commercial Category”; and Andy Poe Garcia of Magalang, Pampanga as “Outstanding Dairy Buffalo Farmer for Commercial Category”. CAMPCI’s Miguel Alfonso took home the “Gintong Kalabaw Cup” for owning the “Best Senior Dairy Buffalo Cow”.

New categories were added in the roster of recognitions this year.  Carlos Cruz of Tanay, Rizal bagged the  “Outstanding Independent Dairy Farmer for Semi-Commercial Category” and Ernesto Padolina of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija for the commercial category.

Apart from the anniversary program, several other important events were conducted during the weeklong celebration that run from from March 25 to 29.

In the R4D Pre In-House Review, 18 on-going and 6 completed papers were evaluated. The papers are in line with the thematic fields of Biosafety, Genetic Improvement-Reproductive and Cryopreservation Techniques, Genetic Improvement-Animal Genomics/Genetic Diversity and Cryopreservation, Product Development, Socio-Economic Dimensions of CDP Implementation, and Production Management System. The In-house evaluators were Dr. Claro Mingala, PCC Scientist III and Livestock Biotech Center chief, Dr. Edwin Atabay, PCC Scientist I, and Dr. Eric Palacpac, PCC’s Knowledge Management Division chief.

Following this was a Farmer’s Field Day cum Technology Showcase that was attended by some 300 buffalo farmers from the national and regional impact areas of PCC. An exhibit that showcased the value chain of dairy buffalo production and management was featured in the technology showcase.

Another highlight was the PCC Employees’ Night where outstanding employees were recognized: “Outstanding Center Director” (Dr. Daniel Aquino of PCC@Central Luzon State University (PCC@CLSU); “Outstanding Supervisor” (Ludivina Estimo of PCC at University of Southern Mindanao); “Outstanding Development Officer” (Engr. Fiorelia Aguinaldo of PCC@CLSU), and “Outstanding Support Staff” (Ma. Corazon Casal of PCC at University of the Philippines Los Baños).  Employees who stayed loyal with PCC were also given recognition.

Among other activities that were simultaneously held were the “Value Chain Players Consultation on National School Feeding Program Implementation” and the “Training-Workshop for PCC Regional Information Officers (RIOs): Strengthening Reportage of Regional CDP Highlights”.

Capping off the weeklong celebration were the Sports Day, “Karwanan”, and HR Transformational Seminar.

The anniversary committee said “Karwanan” is a newly introduced PCC anniversary event that aims to create an unstructured and informal venue for fellowship among PCC employees to allow better rapport and camaraderie.