From seed to feed techno-transfer
PCC trains farmers on sweet sorghum production as ruminant fodder

More than 150 farmers and ruminant raisers in Luzon gained technical know-how on sweet sorghum production management and practices for sustainable supply of feedstuffs during a Farmer’s Field Day held last June 26.

The field day cum technology-transfer activity, held at the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) National Headquarters and Gene Pool in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, was in line with the National Sorghum Development Program (NSDP) launched by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Dr. Candido Damo, technical consultant of DA’s National Corn Program, which also oversees programs in sorghum and cassava, explained the rationale of the NSDP during his talk in the field day. He said that the goal of the program is to respond to the global demand for sorghum as livestock and poultry feeds and substitute for domestically grown corn.

He added that, for 2019, the DA is targeting 100,000 hectares for the cultivation and production of sorghum, mostly in ancestral domain areas owned by indigenous people.

The sorghum planting is part of the DA’s Anti-Poverty and Greater Agricultural Productivity Program implemented through the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD).

Dr. Damo also stated some good characteristics of sorghum by citing four “Fs” –i.e., it can be a reliable source of food, feed, fuel and fertilizer.

PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel Del Barrio, on the other hand, talked about “Sorghum Production, Preservation and Utilization as Ruminant Feed”, which was the main topic for the field day.

“I dubbed this field day as ‘from seed to feed techno-transfer activity’. Everything started from a seed then after the next days, months, and years it will grow and become an additional source of feed or forage for our animals,” he said.

He also encouraged the participants to plant sweet sorghum by explaining the field day’s slogan: “Sa Sorghum, Sure ang Ani, Sure ang Pagkain, Sure ang Kita”. He said that farmers can surely harvest 70 tons of sorghum per hectare and earn income for its low production cost per kilo. If fed to buffaloes, milk yield will increase because of sorghum’s feed value.

Studies showed that sorghum is a drought-tolerant, hardy, easy-to-propagate and protein-rich crop, which can be used as an alternative raw ingredient for animal feeds. It could grow well in marginal areas requiring less water and rainfall. It can be harvested at every 85 days in three ratoons, a practice of growing a crop from the stubble of previous crop without replanting thus making it cheaper to produce.

Dr. Del Barrio added that after harvesting, sorghum can be fed as chopped fresh forage, silage, ingredient in total mixed ration (TMR), and pelleted.

The field day comprised series of hands-on activities and actual demonstrations on several sorghum cultural management practices, which include planting, harvesting, chopping and ensiling, TMR preparation, and feeding. Meanwhile, the step-by-step procedures on sorghum production and its good characteristics were also presented in a video material produced by PCC’s Knowledge Management Division.

Leoncio Callo, one of the farmer-participants, narrated some of the pointers he learned from the field day particularly about the different cultural management practices on sorghum production, processing and utilization.

“I believe that PCC really changes lives and we should all be grateful. PCC teaches us the proper cultural management starting from land preparation down to the harvesting for us to learn how we could improve further our feeding management to achieve a year-round supply of feeds for our buffaloes to earn more income,” he shared.

The field day was organized by the PCC’s Production Systems and Nutrition Section.

After the activity, the participants were provided with starter pack of sorghum seeds and production guide in planting sorghum for them to be able to start planting in their respective areas.

PCC bags ‘Gallantry Award’ for efficient financial management

The Government Financial Management Innovators Circle, Inc. (GFMIC), an association that promotes high standards in public management system, recently recognized the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) for its efforts to fully implement the Electronic New Government Accounting System (eNGAS) and Electronic Budget System (eBudget) across its network.

The recognition called the “eNGAS/eBudget System Gallantry Award” was given during the GFMIC’s 11th Annual National Convention held last June 18-21, 2019 at The Legend Palawan Hotel, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

The said award is given to government agencies that consistently use the eNGAS and eBudget and have succeeded in rolling-out to their operating units across the Philippines.

Around 35 other government agencies received other awards during the event such as the “Pioneer Award” for agencies that launched the eNGAS and eBudget since its pilot implementation, the “Outstanding Contributor Award”, which recognizes invaluable dedication to collaborate with the Commission on Audit (COA) for continuous development of the systems, and the “Grass Root Implementer Award”, which recognizes cities and municipalities that implemented the systems down to the barangay level.

The eNGAS and eBudget are both accounting software developed by COA in 2001 with the objective of standardizing government financial transactions and reporting.

The GFMIC, currently headed by its president, COA assistant commissioner Carmela Perez, is an association registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and aims to promote and maintain high standards relating to public financial management.

The association is composed of users and enthusiasts of the eNGAS and eBudget systems, including other financial management information systems.

Genetically superior bulls, ideal to improve the breeds of dairy buffaloes

A single bull provides various benefits such as draft animal power, additional meat, and a source of semen for breeding strategies. Beyond these gains, a bull’s contribution is indispensable in achieving a good and reliable herd of animals.

There are indeed many existing testimonies stating that it is best to use a bull aligned with several existing breeding strategies.

The purebred Philippine Buffalo bulls, developed by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), are not just active and well-built but also genetically superior as they possess extraordinary quality due to their improved bloodline.

By means of looking into the records of each bull under the care of PCC, those named “Zeus”, “Tomas” and “Dexter” have the highest estimated breeding values (EBVs) and are considered as improved versions of purebred buffalo breed, being products of successive backcrossing.

Currently, “Tomas” and “Dexter” are under the management of PCC national bull farm (NBF) in Caranglan, Nueva Ecija, while “Zeus” is vested in PCC at University of the Philippines-Los Banos (PCC@UPLB). The semen collected from bulls are systematically processed and utilized for artificial insemination (AI) of buffaloes in different areas of the country.

“It is important to maintain quality bulls that provide quality semen allotted for the simultaneous improvement of buffalo breeds in the country,” said Dr. Ester Flores, head of PCC Animal Breeding and Genomics Section.

Basis for selection

As PCC creates its “sire directory”, identification of bulls including its breeds, measurement of traits and, potential for milk production through EBV for each bull became easy and accessible.

Looking into the EBV of bulls is very important for it has a huge contribution in multiplying the herd of high quality dairy buffaloes in the Philippines, which is a priority activity under the PCC’s Genetic Improvement Program (GIP).

The GIP activities are also under the supervision of Dr. Flores.

“This program aims to improve the genes of the bull to sustain an effective multiplication of high quality buffaloes beneficial for meat and milk production,” Dr. Flores explains.

Aside from EBV, the potential of parents’ bull was also considered in identifying these three genetically superior bulls. The factors looked into includes the ability of dam to provide higher milk yield and, for the sire, the number of calves produced.

Specially-identified bulls

According to Hernando Venturina, farm supervisor of NBF, most bulls are named after their caretakers; this perhaps is a result of their attachment to their domesticated buffaloes.

He added that each bull receives the same animal health management in the farm. Their farm practices mainly focus on assuring that the herd is within the recommended body condition score (BCS), and administered with regular vaccines and vitamins.

Zeus is measured with the highest EBV of 599.50. This bull was born at PCC at Central Mindanao University (PCC@CMU) last September 28, 2014 and then transferred to PCC@UPLB last 2015.

Based on the data recording of PCC, Zeus’ dam is capable of giving 7 liters of milk daily whereas its sire had 9 female buffalo calves.

Subsequently, still based on records, Dexter has an EBV of 565.53. This bull was born in PCC at Visayas State University (PCC@VSU) last September 23, 2015 then transferred to NBF in 2016.

Dexter’s dam is capable of giving 8 liters of milk daily while its sire also had 9 calves.

Furthermore, the third bull, Tomas, which is younger than the two mentioned, has an EBV of 456.23 and is born in PCC Genepool last October 4, 2014.

His dam can give 8 liters of milk daily; Tomas and Dexter’s sire refers to the same bull.

“The clearest explanation behind these good performances and high EBVs of bulls is because of its good breeds,” Dr. Flores said.

Understanding EBV of bulls

Similar to the potential or ability of the parents of these genetically superior bulls, a high EBV of buffaloes is considered as a major basis. Half of parents’ EBV for milking potential is inheritable.

However, as Dr. Flores explained, choosing the right combination of male and female buffaloes during mating has an important role in the breeding process that results in high EBVs among the calves produced. Eventually, the EBV traits of these bulls are mixtures of its sire and dam.

The GIP group comprehensively studies the genetic merits of two buffaloes used during breeding to produce calves with viable EBV causing female buffalo to have high potential for milk, while maintaining a high level of EBV for bulls.

To further improve PCC’s breeding system, the agency endeavors in related researches, which include the assessment of fertility rate among bulls with high EBV to assure the sustainability of quality semen production for widespread implementation of PCC’s AI services in the country.

Cooperation, use of technologies usher improvement of dairy livelihood in N.E.

A veterinarian from Osaka, Japan, Dr. Asuka Kunisawa, 34, decided to join the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) in the Philippines to help smallhold dairy farmers.

Using her bicycle, she pedals her way from the PCC National Headquarters and Gene Pool to reach the barangays of Licaong and Catalanacan in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija where she is assigned. She conducts different initiatives that are anchored on PCC’s “Dairy Herd Improvement” (DHI) program that aims in bringing some more improvements in dairying in the province, which is designated as the “National Impact Zone” (NIZ).

The DHI addresses the overall provision of social and technical services of PCC to dairy farmers. Some of these are facilitation of trainings in proper animal management, entrustment of carabaos, organization of cooperatives, and other assistance that can help dairy farmers.

The results of this particular program are set to be replicated among the PCC’s regional centers in the country.

On volunteering

Under the agreement between the PCC, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), Dr. Kunisawa became a volunteer sent by JICA in the Philippines last year.

For 24 months, she will be one among those working on DHI at the NIZ.  She started working at PCC in July 2018 and expects to complete her stint in July 2020.

“What is good about this undertaking is that we can focus on two PCC-assisted cooperatives in Licaong and Catalanacan. It will allow us to see and identify problems in the herd of the farmers. The findings will be shared to other cooperatives in Nueva Ecija,” Wilma del Rosario, head of PCC-NIZ coordinating team said.

At present, 42 farmers are being assisted by Dr. Kunisawa. She helps in tending 200 carabaos.

Dr. Kunisawa has three primary objectives in her activity plan on DHI. First is to determine the technologies utilized by the farmers, second, to ensure that the farmers apply technologies from PCC by educating them, and third is to measure the effect of using PCC technologies.

By 2020, Dr. Kunisawa hopes to have at least 80% of the farmers she assisted to be adopting the technologies from PCC and that they are using them to improve further their means of livelihood.

On the side, Dr. Kunisawa also delves on breeding, centered on shortening the calving interval and on pregnancy detection. To determine the dilemmas of the farmer on these issues, she patiently interviews them.

“Based on the initial data she gathered, it was found that the common problem of farmers was the recording of their observation when it comes to breeding,” Mario Delizo of PCC-NIZ coordinating team said.

To make the recording better, Dr. Kunisawa decided to share her knowledge in using an improved version of breeding calendar, which is a technology from Japan.

The calendar is a monitoring and recording tool. It shows when the farmer can determine pregnancy of the dairy buffalo and if pregnant, the possible day of giving birth.

“Breeding is one of the hardest things to conduct because apart from the farmers being in different places, we usually rely on the farmer’s observations. Hence, the breeding calendar recommended by Dr. Kunisawa can be of good help,” Delizo said.

Dr. Kunisawa added that with the use of the calendar, the calving interval would be shortened because the farmer is aware of the critical days that need to be considered in breeding.

“If the calving interval was shortened, more calves will be born within the productive life span of a dairy buffalo, which the farmer can benefit from. The milk production will increase and the income of the farmer will also increase,” del Rosario said.

Towards a more intensified initiative on DHI

According to Delizo, apart from Dr. Kunisawa, they also work hand-in-hand with different PCC groups that are in-charge of the projects of PCC and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development that are being conducted at the NIZ.

The projects are (1) Development of Feeding Protocol and Practices to Support the Nutritional Requirements of Dairy Buffaloes, (2) Development of Reproductive Management Program for Increased Efficiency of AI in Dairy Buffaloes, (3) Development of Health Care Technologies and Practical Farm Practices in Support of Increasing Buffalo Milk Production, and (4) Milk Quality and Safety Assurance from Farm to Milk Processing Plant.

“At present, we assist 50 cooperatives in the NIZ,” del Rosario said.

On the other hand, Delizo stated that apart from providing support to the need of the purebred buffaloes, the PCC-NIZ coordinating team has started giving assistance to crossbred buffalo owners in the province.

PCC awards dairy buffaloes to ATI Central Luzon accredited learning sites

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) awarded eight dairy buffaloes, all of which are considered matured and milking animals, to two accredited learning sites of Agricultural Training Institute-Central Luzon (ATI-CL) in Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac and Sta. Ana, Pampanga last April 10. This initiative aims to support local farmers and further boost the country’s milk production.

The PCC and ATI-CL, through a Memorandum of Agreement signed last year, collaborated for the assistance to the select learning sites, which include Ragsak Family Farm and St. Isidore “The Farmer” Learning Center Incorporated.

According to Veronica Concepcion Esguerra, center director of ATI-CL, this is a great opportunity to capacitate the learning sites and be engaged in buffalo dairy farming to create higher income for the farm owners and cooperators.

She added that this grant of water buffaloes also complements the aim of PCC to increase  milk production in the country, as it is mandated to help small farmers to uplift their livelihood through derived products from buffaloes or carabaos.

Among the 70 accredited learning sites in Central Luzon, these two received buffaloes after complying with ATI’s evaluation requirements such as adequate facility and manpower to accommodate and nurture the buffaloes. Moreover, these farms practice modern agriculture utilizing various technologies.

Farm tourism/learning site recipients

The St. Isidore “The Farmer” Learning Center with Mr. Romeo M. Cordova as its cooperator is also an accredited farm tourism spot. It received three milking water buffaloes while Ragsak Family Farm, owned by Dr. Ronaldo A. Sumaoang, received five buffaloes.

Dr. Sumaoang expressed his gratitude to PCC and ATI. According to him, these buffaloes give him excitement to venture in this new enterprise. He wants to maximize the potentials of water buffaloes, including milk production and, later on, processing of dairy products.

“I already prepared myself in this venture and had planned some strategies to make this dairy buffalo production and management effective in my farm through the assistance of PCC at Central Luzon State University (PCC@CLSU)”, he averred.

The PCC@CLSU is the center in charge of necessary technical assistance in their area.

Dr. Daniel Aquino, PCC@CLSU center director discussed a few basic and pragmatic management practices needed for the buffaloes.

Dr. Aquino explained that the objective of the partnership of PCC and ATI-CL is to model the carabao-based enterprise development (CBED) program empowering dairy farmers, wherein buffaloes are granted for profit purposes and not to simply serve as farm pets.

These learning sites under ATI-CL were the second batch to receive water buffaloes from PCC. The first was awarded in Davao region.

The PCC and ATI-CL are currently working to establish more learning sites, including some of PCC’s potential ‘carapreneurs’ and progressive farms.

Carabao farmers in Zambo undergo training on dairy buffalo production and management

Forty-one carabao farmers in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte have recently gained practical knowledge on dairy buffalo management.

The select participants, who were trained by PCC at Mindanao Livestock Production Center (PCC@MLPC) last June 5, were from Barangays Goin, Mabuhay, Goaw, New Bethlehem, Candelaria, Tapican and Kayok, which are identified as the pilot barangays for the development of carabao-based enterprises.

The training aimed to present what livelihood opportunities can local farmers benefit from using carabao-based products, the potentials of carabao farming, and train farmers on proper carabao management and production.

Specifically, the topics that were discussed during the training included: (1) update on carabao industry performance and possible enterprises; (2) different breeds of buffalo, breeding practices and reproduction; (3) care and management of buffalo herd; (4) forage and pasture development and management; and (5) feeds and feeding requirements of different age group and possible feedstuffs.

The resource speakers were Fe Emelda Academia, Science Research Specialist II and Carabao Based-Enterprise Development (CBED) regional coordinator; and Dorie Bastatas, research assistant from PCC. The sessions were facilitated by Josephine Mendoza, Community Development Officer and assisted by Francisco Gamale Jr., livestock coordinator of the Local Government Unit-Liloy.

The said training was a joint activity of the LGU of Liloy, Office of the Municipal Agriculturist and the PCC@MLPC. This was the second training conducted by the PCC for LGU-Liloy.

The participants first underwent a Social Preparation Training (SPT) conducted by PCC last February 12 for them to better understand the challenges inherent to carabao production and management and related enterprises.

The SPT is a prerequisite for any farmer who wants to be engaged in CBED to ensure preparedness to venture in carabao-based enterprises.