Carabao takes spotlight in farmers’ congress

“The carabao remains the central figure of agriculture in the Philippines!”
Pablo John Garcia, representative of the 3rd District of Cebu, emphasized this during his message in the opening program of the 9th National Carabao Conference (NCC) held on October 16-17 in Cebu.

Cong. Garcia renowned the vital role of carabao as a sustainable livelihood for the locals of Pinamungajan, Cebu. He also lauded the efforts of the cooperative in helping improve the quality of life of its farmer members, as is the case with the Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LMPC).

The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC) and the National Dairy Box Business Group in partnership with LMPC, a conduit co-op under the Carabao-based Business Improvement Network (CBIN), were behind the organization of this year’s NCC.

The NCC is an annual conference aimed at bringing together participants, caretakers, and all stakeholders in the carabao-based industry. It acts as a forum for the exchange and dissemination of important knowledge about innovations, know-how, ideas, and best practices in carabao farming.

“We are proud to say that because of the assistance of DA-PCC, the farmers here in Pinamungajan have become more empowered in their livelihoods by venturing into the carabao dairy enterprise. They are now aware na may mas malaking pagkakakitaan pala sa kalabaw other than the tailing of their lands,” said Ana Jessica Baricuatro, Mayor of Pinamungajan, Cebu.

Bearing the theme, “Pagbabagong Mukha at Sigla, Maalab na Pagkakalabawan sa Bagong Pilipinas,” the event singled out the efforts and contributions of all the value-chain key players in improving the quality of life for farmers.

Dr. Caro B. Salces, OIC-Executive Director of DA-PCC, recognized the support of the sponsors and the provincial and local government units to the Carabao Development Program (CDP).

Through his presentation, “Kwentong Maalab na Pagkakalabawan: A Progress Briefer on the CDP,” Dr. Salces featured the updates and successes of the Accelerating Livelihood and Assets Buildup (ALAB)-Karbawan projects, Dairy Box, retort milk facilities, CBIN and CCDP projects, among others.

“Thank you Senator Villar for funding many of our programs and to our partners, and this NCC’s speakers and sharers of success stories and transformation,” Salces said.

The LMPC in Lamac, Pinamungajan, Cebu hosted this year’s two-day event with 379 farmers, partners, and supporters in attendance.

The conference kicked off with the procession of assisted cooperatives of the agency and the opening program graced by Cong. Garcia and Pinamungajan Mayor Baricuatro.

The participants were engaged with stories of transformation among carabao farmers, cooperatives, and their communities in the form of a techno-product exhibition and plenary sessions such as: Pagbabagong Mukha sa Kanayunan, Championing Community Empowerment through Carapreneurship by Annalyn Tade, Richard Reyes, and Grace Boyles; Pagbabagong Mukha sa Kooperatiba, Cooperative Development and Sustainability by Joseph Nathaniel Caguimbal and Richard Hidalgo; Pagbabagong Sigla tungo sa Makabuluhang Pamamahala, Fostering Progressive Partnership with the LGUs through the CBIN/CCDP Cooperative Conduits by Dr. Stella Lapiz and Engr. Blas Lamug; Maalab na Pagkakalabawan, The Role of Cooperatives and Partners in Scaling Up the Carabao Industry by Cresente Paez; Cooperative Resiliency and Management Program by Ruth Ramirez; The National Milk Feeding Program: Future Directions by Dr. Mercedes Castillo; National Dairy Box Business Group: Ways Forward by Wendell Amoronio; and Meat Value Chain Business Opportunity Pitch by Patrizia Camille Saturno and Queenie Ruiz.

Zadieshar Sanchez, Chief of Planning Information and Monitoring Division (PIMD) of DA-PCC led the Carabao Industry Stakeholders’ Consultation to consolidate and address the concerns of the cooperatives and individual farmers.

The consultation was divided into four groups namely: Milk Feeding, Dairy Box, AI/Bull Loan/Nutrition Management, and Production and Management.
One of the highlights of the event was the launching of the Dairy Herd Buildup Project (DHBP), a project funded by the Office of the Senate Committee on Food, Agriculture, and Agrarian Reform chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar that is set to revolutionize the local dairy industry.

This was followed by the launching of the official jingle of NCC titled, ‘Wow Kalabaw’ composed by the Applied Communication Section-Knowledge Management Division (ACS-KMD) of DA-PCC in collaboration with Brainfreeze Multimedia.

The awards ceremonies for outstanding carabao farmers from across the country punctuated the opening day of the conference. The winners for the Outstanding Dairy Farmers were Danilo Peralta (Family Module Category); Joseph Nathaniel Caguimbal (Semi-Commercial Category); and Dominic Paclibar (Commercial Category). The winner for the Outstanding Dairy Cooperative was The Rosario Livestock and Agriculture Farming Cooperative. The winner for Outstanding Bull Recipient was Mario Clavo while the Outstanding Village-Based Artificial Insemination Technician (VBAIT) was Edgardo Angeles. Also, the awardees for Best Dairy Animals include (Purebred-Junior Cow Category) ID no. 2LSC19003 owned by Gabriel Modina, (Purebred-Senior Cow) ID no. 2UMC19034 owned by Rodel Estañol, (Crossbred-Junior Cow) ID no. 5UMC21038 owned by Arturo Madrigal, and (Crossbred-Senior Cow) ID no. 6MMC21312 owned by Rhommel Gamponia.

Two ‘Huwaran sa Kalabawan’ were also recognized. The Huwarang Juana sa Kalabawan award was given to Olivia Palazo while the Huwarang Kabataan sa Kalabawan went to Lester Alagar.

9th carabao confab to showcase transformation, progress in carabao industry

The DA-Philippine Carabao Center is set to hold its 9th National Carabao Conference (NCC) in Cebu City on October 16-17, highlighting synergistic efforts among program partners to support the country’s carabao and dairy industries.

NCC is an annual conference that serves as a dynamic platform to share and disseminate valuable information about technologies, skills, ideas, and best practices in carabao farming.

With the theme “Pagbabagong Mukha at Sigla: Maalab na Pagkakalabawan sa Bagong Pilipinas!”, the conference aims to underscore agriculture’s vital role in the nation’s thriving economy and the collective efforts to ensure food security and improve farmers’ and fisherfolk’s quality of life.

“The conference acts as a hub for sharing knowledge and networking among those who are committed to advancing the carabao and dairy sectors. NCC provides a valuable platform that offers insights and awareness about diverse topics within the carabao program,” Dr. Lilian Villamor, 9th NCC overall chairperson, said.

The conference will highlight inspiring stories of metamorphosis among carabao value chain players evolving from subsistence to prosperity and how such transformations were made possible through the collaborative efforts of all program partners.

Key discussions at the conference encompass a wide range of topics including Kwentong Maalab na Pagkakalabawan: A Progress Briefer on the Carabao Development Program (CDP), Launching of the Dairy Herd Buildup of Genetically Improved Buffaloes Project, Pagbabagong Mukha sa Kanayunan: Championing Community Empowerment through Carapreneurship, Pagbabagong Mukha sa Kooperatiba: Cooperative Development and Sustainability, Pagbabagong Sigla Tungo sa Makabuluhang Pamamahala: Fostering Progressive Partnerships through the CBIN/CCDP Cooperative Conduits, and Maalab na Pagkakalabawan: The Role of Cooperatives and Partners in Scaling Up the Carabao Industry.

Industry experts will also discuss important matters such as the Cooperative Resiliency Management Program, the Dairy Hub Concept, and the future directions of the National Milk Feeding Program.

One of the conference’s significant highlights will be the recognition of outstanding carabao farmers who have demonstrated remarkable dedication and excellence in the field of carabao farming. Moreover, cooperatives’ dairy products and innovations of various industry participants will be showcased during the event’s technology and products exhibit.

This year’s confab will be organized jointly for the first time by the DA-PCC and the National Dairy Box Business Group, in partnership with the Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative—one of the conduit co-ops under the Carabao-based Business Improvement Network or ALAB Karbawan project of DA-PCC.

More than 500 participants consisting of dairy farmers, local government officials, industry partners, representatives from government agencies, and private organizations are expected to attend the two-day conference.

‘CaraWow Radyo Eskwela sa Gatasang Kalabaw’ in CALABARZON concludes with 445 graduates

The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (DA-PCC at UPLB), in partnership with the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) CALABARZON, recognized 445 farmer-enrollees during its School-on-the-Air on Dairy Buffalo Production (SOA-DBP) graduation ceremony on October 13, 2023, at Baker Hall, UP Los Baños.

The first-ever SOA-DBP program in the region, dubbed “CaraWow! Radyo Eskwela sa Gatasang Kalabaw,” was conducted from June to August 2023. Its aim was to deliver information on dairy buffalo production, the latest technologies, and business enterprise opportunities. The graduates learned about buffalo management, nutrition management, health management and breeding, milking procedures, milk handling, milk quality testing, and carabao-based enterprises. With this knowledge, they embark on the journey of carabao entrepreneurship, serving the nation.

The guests and participants received a warm welcome from Dr. Mary Grace Bustamante, Provincial Veterinarian of Laguna, in her opening remarks. The farmer-enrollees, represented by Mr. Celerino Genuino (Cavite), Mr. Ruben Rubina (Laguna), and Ms. Runabet Abanico (Batangas), expressed their gratitude for the program’s implementation and their newfound knowledge in dairy buffalo production. Ms. Violeta Rayos of Manggalang Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (MARBENCO) shared their commitment to carabao development programs and encouraged fellow farmer-enrollees to work together for success.

Representatives from the provincial governments of Cavite, Batangas, and Quezon congratulated the graduates in their messages, expressing gratitude to the agencies and local government units (LGUs) involved in the program’s success. They hope that the knowledge shared will motivate farmers to engage in the carabao and dairy industry in their respective provinces.

Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, in a recorded video message, expressed her gratitude to DA-ATI CALABARZON and DA-PCC at UPLB, emphasizing that the SOA program equips farmer-enrollees with valuable information to start carabao dairying for additional income, improving dairy production and increasing local milk supply.

Dr. Eric P. Palacpac, Information V and Chief of the Knowledge Management Division (KMD) of DA-PCC National Headquarters, congratulated the 445 farmer-enrollees on behalf of DA-PCC OIC-Executive Director Dr. Caro B. Salces. He expressed gratitude to its partners (DA-ATI, DA-RFO, and LGUs) for the event’s success. He emphasized the fresh graduates’ essential role in the local carabao and dairy industry and their contribution to government goals, such as increasing the local dairy supply and supporting milk feeding programs.

DA-PCC at UPLB Center Director Dr. Thelma A. Saludes extended her gratitude to partners and highlighted the graduates’ significance as key players in milk feeding programs, increasing milk supply in the country, and improving the nutritional status of Filipino children.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Rolando V. Maningas, DA-ATI CALABARZON Center Director, celebrated the success of dairy farmers and encouraged graduates to share their knowledge and contribute to abundant agriculture and a prosperous economy. He concluded by saying, “Mabuhay dairy farmers in CALABARZON!

AI soldiers accept challenge of enhancing reproductive efficiency of water buffaloes

Fifteen selected artificial insemination (AI) technicians from different regions of Luzon recently gathered to acknowledge their active participation in a comprehensive training program. This training included both theoretical lectures and practical assessments.

Preserving genetic diversity in water buffalo-endemic regions is crucial for the long-term and sustainable enhancement of buffalo genetics. As part of the Genetic Improvement Program (GIP) by the Department of Agriculture–Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC), AI technicians from various local government units (LGUs) and village-based artificial insemination technicians (VBAITs) across the Philippines have consistently provided an increasing number of annual AI services for water buffaloes.

From September 18 to October 7, 2023, the DA-PCC at Central Luzon State University (DA-PCC at CLSU) successfully conducted a 20-day training program titled “Intensified Reproductive Management Program Towards Improving Reproductive Efficiency in Water Buffaloes” at DA-PCC National Bull Farm (NBF) in Digdig (Joson), Carranglan, Nueva Ecija.

Dr. Edwin C. Atabay, National AI Coordinator, emphasized a Triple “E” strategy: enhancing pregnancy rate, implementing an effective rebreeding program, and early detection of pregnancy. He outlined that the program’s primary objective is to improve the pregnancy rate of the country’s water buffaloes, aligning with the agency’s responsibility to propagate and protect the species.

During one of his lectures and demonstrations, Erwin C. Encarnacion expressed, “The challenge begins when we are trained as technicians, and the program’s success continues when we enhance reproductive efficiency and bolster the buffalo population in the country.”

Hernando V. Venturina, often referred to as the father of AI at the DA-PCC, who formerly headed the NBF, shared that despite his retirement, he remains steadfast in offering continuous support to the program. He encouraged AI technicians to collaborate in achieving the agency’s mission, vision, and mandate.

One of the participants, Dante A. Esalan from PVO Laguna, reflected on his experiences. He had serviced more than 2,000 carabaos and cattle, but one unique carabao from NBF challenged him. Dante emphasized that through sharing best practices, engaging with fellow technicians, and acknowledging one’s own limitations, the effectiveness of the DA-PCC training program has been enhanced.

This, in turn, enabled them to improve accuracy and reduce unintentional ruminant abortions, ultimately benefiting their farmer clientele. Dante’s unwavering determination and passion earned him a spot among the top three technicians during the batch graduation on October 7.

Artificial Insemination is the flagship program through which propagation and conservation efforts are extended to numerous dairy farmers, partners, and clients across the country.

The NBF is widely recognized as the epicenter for producing the majority of AI technicians and pioneering research and development related to the GIP.

DA-PCC at CLSU soft launches ‘Cara Cuero’ carabao leather products

The DA-PCC at Central Luzon State University (DA-PCC at CLSU) has reached a significant milestone by unveiling its latest innovation – “Cara Cuero”, the brand name for carabao hide-derived leather products.

This groundbreaking line of leather products was proudly presented during the CLSU Research Innovation and Development Festival (RIDe FEST).
“Cara Cuero” was chosen as the university’s institutional token and was presented to Hon. Amenah “Mina” F. Pangandaman, Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), during the opening ceremony of CLSU’s RIDe FEST on October 9, 2023. The event was themed “Key to a Sustainable Society,” and Secretary Mina delivered an inspiring speech emphasizing the importance of investing in research and development to drive economic growth and development.

Sec. Mina, the youngest and only female member of the country’s Economic Team, received a token of appreciation—a stunning red leather handbag crafted from carabao hide. The gift was presented by Dr. Edgar A. Orden, University President; Dr. Ericson N. Dela Cruz, Regional Center Director of DA-PCC at CLSU; Dr. Marvin Villanueva, Chief PCC Research and Development Division (RDD); Dr. Ravelina R. Velasco, University Acting VP for Academic Affairs; Dr. Ariel G. Mactal, VP for University Business Affairs Program (UBAP); and Dr. Evaristo A. Abella, University VP for Administration. This token symbolizes the culmination of DA-PCC’s commitment to preserving, propagating, and promoting the carabao as a vital resource for rural farmers, providing milk, meat, draft power, and hide.

Impressed, Sec. Mina commended Dr. Dela Cruz and the entire agency, saying, “You’re doing a great job; please continue creating these magnificent and excellent products.”

DA-PCC at CLSU now produces a wide range of leather items from carabao hide, including belts, sandals, wallets, bags, and shoes, in collaboration with partners in the tanning industry in Meycauayan, Bulacan. They offer an array of classic and modern colors, prints, textures, finishes, and thicknesses tailored to meet customers’ specific preferences.

DA-PCC at CLSU commits to further this venture into greater heights as its significant contribution in the local leather industry.

The DA-PCC at CLSU’s RIDe Fest booth is located in front of the CLSU Research and Extension Office, where its offerings of carabao-based products are available until October 11, 2023.

Initial 3k dairy animals set to build up local dairy herd

The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center’s (DA-PCC) Dairy Herd Buildup Program (DHBP) is set to revolutionize the local dairy industry, ushering in a new era of increased local dairy stocks and milk production.

In 2021, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an estimate of 2.82 million carabaos in the country, with only 17,907 listed as dairy buffaloes. This glaring statistic indicates that a significant portion of crossbred animals remains underutilized, primarily employed for purposes other than dairy production, such as meat and draft. According to the DA-PCC, crossbred animals realize their maximum milk production potential when their Riverine blood composition reaches at least 87.3%. Regrettably, many farmers with 50:50 crossbreds opt to sell their livestock for quick gains rather than pursuing further crossbreeding to boost milk output.
In response to this challenge, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, under the dedicated leadership of Senator Cynthia A. Villar, has generously funded the DHBP. This initiative includes the acquisition of an initial batch of 3,000 crossbred carabaos.

The procured crossbred herd will be carefully raised, both at the institutional farm of the DA-PCC and in collaboration with qualified agistment farmers (agistors). In this scheme, landowners allow the keeping and feeding of another person’s livestock for a specified rate.

To enhance genetic merit, the crossbred buffaloes will be backcrossed with the Riverine breed using the highest-quality semen available from the DA-PCC semen bank. Advanced reproductive biotechnologies, including naturally estrus animals, enhanced AI, and fixed time AI (FTAI), will be employed to produce animals with a minimum of 87.3% Riverine blood composition, positioning them to rival purebreds in milk performance.
The pregnant and bred animals will subsequently be distributed to carabao raisers, particularly within designated Carabao-based Business Improvement Network (CBIN) areas.

The DA-PCC at Cagayan State University (DA-PCC at CSU) has recently received the first 100 crossbred buffaloes.

To ensure the program’s sustainability, DA-PCC is intensifying its efforts by training additional village-based and LGU AI technicians, aiming to double the existing AI output from 90,000 to 180,000 services until 2025. This expansion will accelerate calf production.

The program also involves establishing pasture areas and cultivating at least 400 hectares of forage, ensuring a consistent supply of fodder for both confined feeding (cut and carry) and grazing within farmers’ cooperatives and organizations.

Additionally, support for zero waste management initiatives, promotion of sustainable milk production, distribution of milk products in rural areas, and the implementation of a digitized Carabao Crossbred Registry and feedback system are key components of the program’s comprehensive approach.

Graduation ceremony celebrates success of agricultural extension workers in artificial insemination training

In celebration of skill and knowledge, the graduation ceremony for the “Basic Training Course on Artificial Insemination and Pregnancy Diagnosis in Large Ruminants” took place on September 29, 2023, at the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center 02 (DA-ATI-RTC02), Cabagan, Isabela. This milestone marks the culmination of a collaborative effort between the DA-ATI-RTC02, the DA-Regional Field Office 02 (DA-RFO2), and the DA-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC). The training course, which ran from September 4 to September 29, 2023, saw 20 agricultural extension workers from various municipalities in Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, and Batanes Provinces successfully completing the program.

The objective of the training was clear: to equip these dedicated agricultural extension workers with essential skills and knowledge in artificial insemination, enabling them to provide vital extension services in large ruminants within their respective regions. This effort is seen as a significant complement to existing programs of the DA-PCC, such as the DA-National Livestock Program (DA-NLP) and the Carabao Development Program. These initiatives collectively aim to enhance breed quality and boost the population of carabaos and cattle, ultimately contributing to the food security of the Philippines.

Gracing the ceremony with their words of encouragement were prominent figures in the agricultural sector, including Dr. Roberto C. Busania, Regional Technical Director for Operations of the DA-RFO2; Claris M. Alaska, DPA, Assistant Center Director of the DA-ATI-RTC02; and Dr. Rovina R. Piñera, OIC Center Director of the DA-PCC at Cagayan State University.
“The government spent a lot of money on this training; do not let the learnings and talents that you have acquired from this training go to waste,” Dr. Busania said.

Moreover, Dr. Busania announced that the DA is committed to providing A.I. equipment to deserving municipalities to enhance the nutrition and production of carabaos and cattle in Region 2. He also challenged the trainees to contribute to the food sufficiency of the country through the provision of A.I. services.

On the other hand, Alaska uplifted the morale of the trainees by emphasizing their role in knowledge and technology transfer.
“Stretch out your services to the agricultural industry. Ituring niyo ito bilang bagong simula ng pagpapalaganap ng A.I. sa inyong mga nasasakupan. Kayo ang inaasahan ng DA-PCC na magdadala ng mga makabagong pamamaraan at teknolohiya sa mga minamahal nating magsasaka,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rovina R. Piñera commended the successful collaboration of DA-RFO2, DA-ATI-RTC02, and DA-PCC.

“Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much. Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is a success,” said Dr. Piñera.

The participants themselves shared their gratitude and enthusiasm for the training. John Dave D. Salvador from Basco, Batanes, highlighted how this training was long-awaited in his province and expressed his commitment to bringing these valuable skills back to his community.

Gabby M. Zamora from Diffun, Quirino, shared his excitement about using his newfound knowledge to benefit local farmers and their livestock.
“Nadagdagan pa ang aking kaalaman sa pag-aalaga at pagpaparami ng mga alagang kalabaw. Sabik na akong maibahagi ang aking mga natutunan sa mga magsasaka sa aming bayan upang malaman din nila ang mga bagong teknolohiya sa pagpaparami ng kanilang mga alaga,” Zamora said.
Ian Paul V. Septimo from Gonzaga, Cagayan, was overwhelmed by the quality of training provided by DA-ATI and expressed gratitude for the equipment received to support their continued efforts in artificial insemination.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa DA-ATI, DA-RFO2, at DA-PCC sa pamamahagi ng mga equipment upang masigurong hindi masasayang ang aming natutunan sa training na ito at upang maipagpatuloy namin ang A.I. sa aming mga lugar,” Septimo added.

This graduation ceremony represents a significant step forward in enhancing the livestock industry in Region 2 and demonstrates the potential for collaborative efforts to bring positive change to agriculture and food security in the Philippines.

Twin calves in Tarlac

Artificial insemination (AI) technology recently played a pivotal role in the birth of twin male and female calves in Barangay Laoang, Tarlac City, Tarlac.

This remarkable achievement can be attributed to Jaime Bacsa Jr., a dairy farmer who, in addition to his previous career as a cook, currently serves as the Councilor of the barangay.

On September 16, 2023, the barangay witnessed the birth of its first set of twin calves, a historic moment made possible through AI. Bacsa’s journey in the world of farming traces back to the 1980s and 1990s when carabaos were primarily valued for their draft power. During that time, he sustained his livelihood by buying and selling carabaos, a venture that allowed him to support his children through college and witness them earning professional degrees. Upon retiring from his cooking profession, he returned to caring for carabaos, finding happiness and a source of income in these magnificent creatures.

Bacsa’s elation and pride are immeasurable as Dr. Noel Soliman, the city veterinarian, introduces his first set of twin calves, which are yet to be named. They were produced through AI by the DA-PCC at CLSU. Prior to the birth of these twins, Bacsa had already experienced success with AI when a female calf was born through the same method.

Last year, when the DA-PCC at CLSU AI team visited the barangay to promote the AI program, Bacsa eagerly embraced the opportunity, despite some of his neighbors preferring natural mating for their animals. Initially, only a few farmers joined the program. However, months later, those who participated saw positive results as their buffaloes successfully conceived through AI, with Bacsa’s twins being a prime example.

This experience solidified Bacsa’s belief in the saying “seeing is believing.” He expressed his sincere gratitude to the DA-PCC at CLSU AI team, particularly to Francis “Anchet” Adriano, the AI technician responsible for the birth of his twin calves.

Research has shown that calves can be categorized as either monozygous or dizygous, and they may share the same sex or have different sexes. In cases where twins of opposite sexes are born, a condition known as freemartinism occurs in 90 to 97% of pregnancies, leading to sterility in the female calf.

Understanding the advantages and challenges of having twin calves of opposite sexes, Bacsa remains undeterred and committed to supporting and promoting the AI program. He has ambitious plans to expand his carabao population and embark on milk production in the near future, further contributing to the development of his community.

Government crossbreeding program boosts population of dairy carabaos in Region 2

The government’s crossbreeding program has significantly boosted the population of dairy carabaos in Region 2. San Agustin, a town in Isabela province, stands out as the “Crossbred Carabao Capital of the Philippines” due to its remarkable achievements in carabao crossbreeding.

The municipality actively collaborates with the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC) to train Village-Based Artificial Insemination (AI) Technicians (VBAITs), aiming to increase the population of crossbred carabaos.

This endeavor has yielded impressive results, with the municipal agriculture office reporting 2,854 crossbred carabaos in June 2023 in San Agustin.

The success in San Agustin can be attributed to the local government’s commitment to harnessing AI for breed improvement. Initiatives like the Carabao-based Business Improvement Network (CBIN) project and the DA-PCC’s carabao upgrading program are also expanding the carabao population in neighboring Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya through processing and marketing facilities.

San Agustin is known for its “Nuang Festival,” celebrating the achievements of carabao owners who have actively participated in the program to improve the native carabao breed.

During the 13th Nuang Festival in 2018, three farmers received buffalo bulls with 93.75% riverine blood, introduced as the “Philippine Dairy Carabao” breed during the DA-PCC’s 25th anniversary celebration.

The Philippine Dairy Carabao is a product of a continuous backcrossing method conducted by researchers at DA-PCC at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (DA-PCC at UPLB) under the guidance of Dr. Ester Flores, National Genetic Improvement Program Coordinator and geneticist of DA-PCC.

This breeding approach involves mating purebred riverine buffaloes with native swamp buffaloes (carabaos). The resulting offspring—crossbred carabaos—are bigger, meatier, and produce more milk than native carabaos, which can only provide an average of one to two liters of milk a day.

The development of the Philippine Dairy Carabaos did not stop at the production of the first cross—the 50:50 bloodline. Subsequent generations of purebred riverine bulls that are the product of careful selection and mating are used for continuous mating (backcrossing) of the subsequent generations of crossbred cows with an increasing riverine bloodline until the fourth generation.

At this point, the crossbreds are no different from purebred riverine but have the distinct advantage of better tolerance or adaptability to the Philippine climate.

“These bulls [entrusted to farmers] are products of continuous backcrossing and selection of cows that are really good milk producers. Their daughters will be included in the genetic evaluation, the process that purebred cows undergo, having their own estimated breeding values,” Dr. Flores said. “With all the rigorous processes done to come up with these bulls, they are ready to be used for breeding,” she added.

San Agustin, through LGU collaboration with DA-PCC and other partners, aspires to excel in carabao upgrading and dairy enterprise development. The production of more “Philippine Dairy Carabaos” positions the Philippines among countries that have successfully bred their dairy buffalo, potentially boosting the dairy carabao population nationwide.