DA-PCC regional center in La Union preps dairy farmers as key players in local dairy value chain

The local dairy industry in La Union and Pangasinan, which are service areas of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center at Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DA-PCC at DMMMSU), is expected to hit a vibrant mood as the latter signals the DA-PCC’s participation in the national milk feeding program.Led and implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd), the DA-PCC joins the effort in the nationwide School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) pursuant to Republic Act No. 11037 also known as the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act”, by linking DepEd to the suppliers of milk from participating dairy buffalo cooperatives.

Also joining the cause are local government units of select school beneficiaries and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. “This program will provide dairy value chain players with sustainable livelihood while boosting the local dairy industry and ultimately benefitting undernourished children,” DA-PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel Del Barrio said. Championing this very agenda is Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Cynthia Villar who funded the project titled Carabao-based Business Improvement Network (CBIN), popularized as “Accelerating Livelihood Assets Buildup (ALAB)-Karbawan”. Entrustment of milk processing equipment to Bantog Samahang Nayon Multipurpose Cooperative (BSNMPC), the conduit co-op of DA-PCC for this project, is one of the CBIN’s initiatives.

Included in the milk production and processing equipment and materials for entrustment are eight chest freezers, 150 ice boxes, three vehicles for transporting milk, three display chillers, 250,000 milk sachets, stickers for labels and kitchen utensils.

Said ceremonial entrustment, slated on September 9 in Asingan, Pangasinan, ensures that dairy farmers are soon to have a steady stream of income from their dairy venture while giving milk consumers an assurance that the products produced by the co-op and sold in the Dairy Box outlet are of high quality.

In the provinces of La Union and Pangasinan, some 172 schools were identified for the SBFP benefitting about 65,097 schoolchildren ages 6 to 12 years old.

“We hope this program will encourage more farmers to consider dairying as a business opportunity. We aim to help our communities rise above mere subsistence and eventually boost the local dairy industry in the region,” Vilma Gagni, officer-in-charge of DA-PCC at DMMMSU, said.

Nationwide, the feeding program is looking to serve 394,433 undernourished children who are in Kindergarten to Grade 6 and are also SBFP beneficiaries for hot meals. Each child will receive 200 ml toned carabao’s milk for at least 20 feeding days.

In June 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA No. 11037 to address the problem of undernutrition among Filipino children through a National Feeding Program of which one of the components is the Milk Feeding Program with fresh milk or fresh milk-based product as additional component to hot meals.

DA-PCC intensifies herd build up in Central Visayas

As part of its strategy to increase local milk production, the Department of Agriculture- Philippine Carabao Center at Ubay Stock Farm (DA-PCC at USF), completed the distribution of additional 60 dairy buffaloes to Boholano recipients last August 1.

The Php3 million-worth project is under the Dairy Buffalo Dispersal Program through the cooperative conduit scheme of DA-PCC.

As stipulated in the memorandum of agreement (MOA), DA-PCC at USF will entrust dairy animals to Bohol Dairy Cooperative (BODACO) as the conduit co-op.

“Aside from BODACO, we have also partnered with our existing assisted cooperatives in Cebu such as the Lamac Multipurpose Cooperative (LMPC), Compostela Market Vendors Cooperative (COMAVEMCO) and the First Consolidated Cooperative along Tañon Road (FCCT) for this particular program,” Guillerma Abay-abay, Carabao-based Enterprise Development (CBED) program coordinator of DA-PCC at USF, said.

To date, the center awarded a total of 169 head of dairy buffaloes since it started in September 2019; 94 were channeled through BODACO, 43 for LMPC, 15 for COMAVEMCO and 17 for FCCT.

“This system aims to help the cooperative build up its assets initially with dairy animals as business stimuli. Upon signing of the agreement, the ownership of the buffaloes is transferred by the PCC to the co-op,” Abay-abay said.

“Si co-op magbayad ni PCC og usa ka baye nga nati, while the farmer magbayad sa coop og duha ka nati. (The co-op will pay one female calf to PCC, while the farmer will pay two calves to the conduit cooperative),” Abay-abay explained.

To sustain the implementation of the program in the community, the co-op has to ensure compliance to the agreed repayment for each dispersed female buffalo. The age of the replacement animal should be 18 months old and shall be reloaned by the cooperative to another qualified farmer-trustee who is an active member of the co-op with good standing.

The succeeding calves of the entrusted buffalo, whether male or female, shall be shared between the cooperative and the farmer-trustee on their agreed scheme.

In one of the meetings, Dr. Gundolino P. Bajenting, officer-in-charge of DA-PCC at USF mentioned that herd build up is one of the strategies to produce more milk in response to the national tall order to increase production from one to 10 percent.

Abay-abay additionally said the  increase in the number of dairy buffaloes per household conversely provides a more satisfying income for a typical family.

To date, the center recorded a total of 3,928.85 li of milk produced out of the animals dispersed since last year under the conduit scheme. This volume comprises 5.33% of the total milk production by the center for the year. This translates to an additional income of Php192,442.50 at Php50.00 per liter of milk.

Dr. Bajenting said 40 head of dairy buffaloes are due for dispersal to farmers once the necessary government procurement documents are completed.