17th NBW celebration highlights Pinoy agribiotechnologies

This year’s National Biotechnology Week (NBW) celebration, which will run from November 22-26, highlights the crucial role of biotechnology innovations in healing the nation from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This essentially was the message of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año who chaired the event. 

Sa panahong ito, kailangan talaga natin ng kaagapay sa mga kababayan natin mula sa kagutuman, pagkakasakit, pagbagsak ng ekonomiya at pagkasira ng kalikasan at biotechnology ang nagging sandigan ng ating patuloy na pananaliksik at paglikha ng mga produkto, metodolohiya at iba pang proseso at pamamaraan upang makalikha ng produkto na pang-agrikultura at medisina,” Secretary Año said.

With the theme “Kapit-bisig na Pagtutulungan, Bioteknolohiya Ating Paghusayan!”, physical and virtual exhibits during the celebration aim to focus on the efforts of the government, non-government sectors and private institutions working together to bring forth milestones and technologies achieved through Philippine biotechnology.

In addition, DILG Undersecretary Marlo L. Iringan said the Department’s goal is to bring biotechnology to local levels in the context of battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

On efforts to up the public’s better understanding and appreciation of biotechnology, Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar expressed his stance in fighting misinformation by proper information dissemination about biotechnology. He zeroed in on how biotechnology could be an instrument to halt malnutrition in Filipino children.

In his inspirational message, Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña underscored the support and innovations made by the Department of Science and Technology during the time of the pandemic such as promising results of virgin coconut oil and lagundi as treatment for COVID-19 as well as passing of the House Bill 2155 establishing the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).

One of the featured Pinoy Agricultural Biotechnologies is the QuickCArE Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus Test Kit developed by the DA-Philippine Carabao Center. This rapid, low-cost, pen-side DNA-based test with high detection rate can be performed in four easy steps without the use of specialized equipment.

For more information on the featured biotechnology products, register via this link:   https://bit.ly/RegistrationVirtualTechnoForumOnAgBiotech

Young carapreneurs get firsthand motivation from industry champs

Second liners in their respective family’s dairy buffalo business get firsthand inspiration from practicing carapreneurs who are considered as staunch advocates of carapreneurship. This was during a learning event on “Dairy Buffalo Farming for Food Security and Sustainability” with 45 youths in attendance at the Milka Krem Hall, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija on November 11-12 and 15-16.

The attendees, aged 15 to 30, are children of dairy farmers who are members of a dairy cooperative. The activity was based on the objective of transforming the mindset of the youth on their crucial role in pushing forward the future of dairy buffalo farming industry along with their imminent takeover as the next leaders of the cooperative.

Dr. Marvin Villanueva, Senior Science Research Specialist and OIC of the Research and Development Division, cited in his message the PSA data (2019) showing that farmers in the Philippines are getting older with 57 as the average age of workers in agriculture. Studies also show that older farmers do not necessarily encourage their children to engage in agricultural activities.

This was supported by Palis (2020) stating that 65 percent of Filipino farmers want their children to be better off going to college and work in cities or abroad rather into farming. As a result, they do not impart long-established farming techniques to the younger generation which may be linked to the declining interest among youth to engage in agricultural activities.

Dr. Villanueva then encouraged participants to develop their eagerness to help local farmers in their community. He urged them to start knowing the basics of dairy farming at an early age and develop passion for it.

“Ang mga kabataan hindi masyadong nakafocus sa pagkakalabaw. After makapag-aral ang iniisip ay makapagtrabaho para magkapera. Pwede naman po yun pero at the same time mag-invest po tayo. Sa pagkakalabaw maaring gawin mo ito hanggang pagtanda at kaya mo pa dahil hawak mo ang oras mo,” also encouraged Miccaela Alfonso, 26, proprietor of Alfonso Dairy Farm in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.

Alfonso was one of the speakers who imparted her experiences in integrated farming. She shared that in dairy farming she was able to grow as a person in terms of constantly learning how to manage and expand their family business. The farm, she added, was also able to help their community grow by generating jobs and by teaching them to patronize local farm products.

Patrick Pascual, artificial insemination technician from Sto. Domingo, also shared his experiences on being a technician and how this has earned him sustainable income.

Among the topics that were discussed include introduction to buffalo milk- and meat-based enterprises, basic business management, cooperativism and leadership, spiritual and values orientation, and business planning. Said activity, which was spearheaded by the DA-Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) Socio-Economics and Policy Section (SEPS) led by Estella Valiente, will hold another batch of seminar via Zoom on November 29 to 30 to accommodate more than 100 youth participants.

DA-PCC’s genetic scientist Dr. Flores is ‘CSC Pagasa’ awardee

Dr. Ester Flores deems the past two years of her government service among her anni mirabiles, after she was conferred the rank of Scientist I under the Scientific Career System in 2020 and was hailed, this year, as one of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Pagasa awardees.

Dr. Flores, DA-Philippine Carabao Center’s (DA-PCC) supervising science research specialist, and other outstanding government workers were conferred recognition during the virtual awarding rites led by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on November 15 for exemplary display of public service. The conferment ceremony was aired via the Facebook pages and YouTube channels of CSC and Radio Television Malacañang, respectively.

The DA-PCC’s National Genetic Improvement Program (GIP) Coordinator was recognized for her significant contributions and professional expertise in research and development particularly in animal breeding and genomics and for being the prime mover of the central animal genetic data management program.

Among her noteworthy accomplishments include the establishment and implementation of separate structured breeding program for riverine and swamp buffaloes, development of a suitable genetic evaluation model for estimation of genetic parameters and estimated breeding values (EBVs), and marker assisted selection, which all paved the way to DA-PCC becoming the only livestock agency in the DA that has a well-organized and -structured breeding program demonstrated with locally produced riverine buffalo and swamp buffalo bulls with EBVs.

These initiatives, coupled with genomic selection using high density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping, ushered the latest generation of performance- and progeny-tested Philippine dairy buffalo bulls with pedigree-based and genomic breeding values.

“What’s more encouraging is when you see your efforts pay off. Knowing that farmers are benefiting from our breeding program is priceless and I call that job satisfaction,” Dr. Flores said.

“Job satisfaction is more than money. It’s really looking at your effort to see if your job actually has done something or has impacted the lives of our farmers. If that happens, it is definitely a pat on our back and that’s it for me,” she added.

President Duterte also imparted an inspirational message to the awardees saying: “The awards that you received today only mean progress for our nation. Carry it proudly and use it to inspire and serve more Filipinos.”

Pagasa award is “given to an individual or group of individuals for outstanding contributions that directly benefit more than one department of the government.”

The CSC said the awardees will receive a gold medal crafted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, cash prize and a plaque signed by President Duterte.

CSC recognizes 4 DA-PCC civil servants in the Regional HAP

Three officials from DA-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC) National Headquarters received recognition during the Regional Honor Awards-Region 3 under the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Honor Awards Program (HAP) for exemplary display of public service.

To commemorate this accomplishment, the Human Resource Management Section conducted an award ceremony for the awardees from DA-PCC.

Knowledge Management Division (KMD) Chief Dr. Eric P. Palacpac and Head Researcher of the Breeding and Genetics Unit Dr. Ester B. Flores were conferred the CSC Pagasa Award (Individual Category), while Chief of Livestock Biotechnology Center Dr. Claro N. Mingala received the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award. Dr. Flores has also officially advanced as one of the semifinalists in the National level. In addition, Ms. Anna Reylene Montes from DA-PCC University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) also bagged the CSC Pagasa Award in Region IV.

The CSC HAP is an annual program that aims to motivate or inspire government employees to improve their quality of performance and instill deeper involvement in public service. This is in line with the Philippine Civil Service Anniversary Celebration, which is conducted every month of September.

1st Dairy Box in Bataan opens in Dinalupihan

The first of the two Dairy Boxes in the province of Bataan was formally opened and turned-over by the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center at Cenral Luzon State University (DA-PCC at CLSU) to the members of Makabagong Agrikultura ng Dinalupihan Marketing Cooperative (MA-DMC) in Brgy. San Ramon, Common Terminal, Dinalupihan, Bataan.

The provision is under the Carabao-based Improvement Network (CBIN) Project funded by the Office of Senator Cynthia Villar with assistance from the local government of Dinalupihan, Bataan. The project propels an inclusive, sustainable, and highly competitive local dairy industry.

The Dairy Box aims to support our local dairy buffalo farmers to market their milk and meat products and provides hope to improve their quality of life.

The turn-over ceremony was led by DA-PCC’s Deputy Executive Director for Production and Research Dr. Claro N. Mingala and Center Director Dr. Ericson N. Dela Cruz, Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Alberto S. Venturina, Regional Livestock Coordinator Ms. Elisa Mallari and Municipal Mayor Hon. Maria Angela S. Garcia.

Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and Agrarian Reform delivered her virtual message for the said ceremony emphasizing the importance of the carabao industry in the country so her office invested funds to increase the number of carabao raisers and establish dairy processing facilities to provide milk for the children. “Sana ang benepisyo ng Dairy Box na pasisinayaan ay makatulong sa mamamayan ng Dinalupihan at makatulong sa miyembro ng kooperatiba,”as she ended her message.

The Dairy Box offers products full of goodness from carabao’s milk like lacto juice, choco, pasteurized, yogurt, pastillas, polvoron, soft ice cream. It also provides meat products such as tocino, papaitan, tapa, and other delights. The store is open to the public every day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Carapreneurs receive PHP4.6 million-worth of loan under DA-ACPC-ANYO Program

With the endorsement of Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC), 38 carapreneurs from Nueva Ecija were formally granted a total of PHP4,617,000 worth of loan by the New Rural Bank of San Leonardo (NRBSL) Incorporated, Nueva Ecija, under the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC)  Agri-Negosyo Loan Program (ANYO).

The ceremonial turn-over, which happened during the 7th National Carabao Conference closing program, was graced by Abundio Quililan Jr., NRBSL President and Chief Executive Officer, and DA-PCC OIC Executive Director Dr. Ronnie D. Domingo and few carapreneurs who were able to attend the event physically.

The loan will be used purposively for purchase of additional numbers of carabao as well as improvement of carabao pen and other incidental or miscellaneous expenses. The loan proceeds will be released directly to the supplier of carabao and/or source of construction materials except for the miscellaneous/incidental expenses which will be received in cash by the carapreneur beneficiaries.

The DA-ACPC ANYO Program is a zero-interest capital loan intended to support the daily business operations of small farmers and fisherfolk, farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs), and agri-fishery-based micro and small enterprises (MSEs).

DA-PCC’s partnership with LGU, private enterprise highlights 7th NCC

The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC) highlights meaningful partnerships with various local government units and private institutions in the recently concluded 7th National Carabao Conference (NCC) held in a blended approach (online and on-site following standard safety and health protocols) on October 25 to 29.

The conference kicked off with the opening of a techno exhibit, which showcased DA-PCC’s technologies at the Milka Krem compound. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the exhibit was presided by Science City of Muñoz Administrator Dr. Raul Divina, DA-PCC OIC Executive Director Dr. Ronnie Domingo, DA-PCC Deputy Executive Director Dr. Caro Salces and 7th NCC overall Chairperson Dr. Peregrino Duran. Dr. Cyril Baltazar, Farm Superintendent II, facilitated the demonstration and explained the importance of some technologies such as the baler machine.

The techno exhibit is also part of the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita where carabao’s milk-based products, Kardeli carabao’s meat products, and local vegetables and fruits produced by different partner cooperatives and farmers were also on sale.

Meanwhile, DA Secretary William Dar in his keynote address enumerated the carabao industry’s goals, which include accelerating herd build up, increasing productivity and profitability of carabao-based enterprises, ensuring availability of safe and quality milk and meat products from genetically improved carabaos and harnessing the niche market for carabao-derived products. 

“In achieving such goals, we must modernize farm facilities, strengthen farm consolidation, reduce the cost of feed, strengthen research for development, and continue collaboration with LGUs,” encouraged Dar.

He also mentioned the PL480 project under the United States Agricultural Trade and Development Assistance for the carabao industry stakeholders, which aims to increase the annual family income of carabao farmers by 20%, produce 27. 7 million liters of milk, establish 22 provincewide impact areas as dairy business hubs, increase dairy carabao inventory and provide policy actions that are supportive to dairy business buildup. The PL480 will be jointly implemented by the National Dairy Authority (NDA), DA-PCC and Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) as fund manager.

Similarly, Committee Chairperson for Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform Senator Cynthia Villar reiterated the importance of carabao’s milk as a supplement for nutritional deficiency in undernourished children and as an additional livelihood for local farmers and entrepreneurs. Thus, it encourages more farmers and entrepreneurs to venture into  dairy industry in the country.

Further, DA-PCC OIC Executive Director, Dr. Ronnie Domingo, during his presentation of the Carabao Industry Roadmap, emphasized the importance of the competitiveness in marketing industry. He challenged the agency to  identify niche market where the agency will target specific consumers and market segment for carabao-based products.

DA-Assistant Secretary-Designate for Regulations, Dr. Liza Battad, also shared her encouragement through virtual presentation during the program.

Activities during the third and fourth day include the Launching of the New DA-PCC Music Video sung and composed by outgoing DA-PCC at La Carlota Stock Farm Center Director Ariel Abaquita, Roundtable Discussion with DA-PCC Partner Chief Executives hosted by Francis “Kiko” Flores of Tulong Balita Online, Dairy Value Chain Innovations updates, and Discussions on the agency’s Policy and Program Implementations.

These were followed by the recognition of the 7th NCC awardees across the DA-PCC network. Winners for the Outstanding Dairy Farmers (Family Module Category) include Ceferino Ligot, Panfilo Tutor, and Pedro Silvidad; (Semi-commercial Category) Ernie Lita June Flores and Dominic Paclibar; and (Commercial Category) Elpidio Manaloto Jr. Winners for Outstanding Dairy Buffalo Cooperative/ Farmers Association include General Trias Dairy Raisers Multi-purpose Cooperative, San Jose Dairy Producers Association, and Muleta Side Buffalo Dairy Association. Winners for Outstanding Bull Recipients include Joselito Canlas and Ruben Butlig while winners for Outstanding Village-based Artificial Insemination Technicians (VBAITs) include Bernie Glenn Guevarra and Rolly Richard Zalameda. Also, awardees for Best Dairy Cow (Purebred-Junior Cow Category) ID no 2BP16013 owned by Richard Reyes, ID no 2LC17006 owned by Doreen Alicia and ID no 2LSC14012 owned by Gregorio Cueco; and  (Purebred-Senior Cow Category) ID no 2NIZ16006 onwed by Victoriano Dumale and ID no IT20141135 owned by Melgin Zenith were recognized.

The testimonial narratives video for the ALAB Karbawan Project Communities, which were sponsored by Sen. Villar, was also premiered followed by the launching of Gawad Livestock and Poultry Award and holding of a Knowledge Café.

Private partners from the New Rural Bank of San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija Inc. also loaned out Php4,617,000 to selected dairy cooperatives, which was part of the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Agri-Negosyo Loan program.

A MOA Signing of the DA-PCC, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), and Le Ferme Livestock Development Partnership took place after the closing ceremony. The agreement aims to establish the partnership between the three agencies in revolutionizing the livestock production by producing the best quality of beef cattle through the infusion of the Wagyu breed and to strengthen the dairy production by producing genetically superior buffaloes using the advanced reproductive biotechnologies.