ALAB Karbawan yields positive outcomes

The Accelerating Livelihood and Assets Buildup (ALAB) Karbawan projects not only offer business opportunities for carapreneurs but also play a crucial role in bolstering the local dairy industry. Recent achievements of the ALAB Karbawan development project across the country, currently spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC), affirm this.

ALAB Karbawan serves as the umbrella program and popularized name for two province-wide Carabao-based Enterprise Development implementation projects: Carabao-based Business Improvement Network (CBIN) and Coconut-Carabao Development Project (CCDP). These initiatives were launched and funded by the Office of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar.

Initiated in 2019, the program’s primary goal is to establish robust carabao-based enterprises in recipient provinces, thereby generating livelihood opportunities for farmers. Implementation commenced in 2020 across 17 sites nationwide, empowering farmers to raise dairy carabaos. Meanwhile, cooperatives assumed responsibility for milk consolidation and processing.

The introduction of the Dairy Box facilitated the promotion of locally sourced carabao-based products and streamlined milk distribution, particularly in support of school-based feeding programs.

This proactive initiative significantly elevated the income and livelihoods of dairy farmers, prompting Senator Villar to expand funding to cover a total of 81 sites nationwide. This expansion has broadened livelihood opportunities and ensured the availability of nutritious milk for millions of Filipino schoolchildren. Additionally, retort milk facilities were strategically established to guarantee milk accessibility, even in remote regions.

ALAB Karbawan aligns with the government’s core objective of increasing the country’s milk production. To this end, Senator Villar allocated a total budget of PHP795 million for the implementation of CBIN (PHP295M for FY2019 and FY2020; PHP110M for FY2021; PHP250M for FY2022) and CCDP (PHP140M). This budget is being employed to invest in various aspects of the dairy value chain, ranging from buffalo stocks and breeding services to milk collection, processing, and marketing facilities, all managed through the cooperative conduit scheme.

In June 2023, a dairy population survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported a remarkable 10.1% increase in the dairy carabao population, now estimated at 30,151, representing 32.1% of the total 93,930 dairy animals in the country.

The ALAB Karbawan program played a pivotal role in stimulating the growth of the dairy carabao sector. Complemented by other program components such as Genetic Improvement and Dairy Herd Buildup (DHB), this growth is poised to be sustained, making a significant contribution to the country’s economy.

The Dairy Herd Buildup (DHB) project, initially funded in 2023 with a total budget of PHP698 million, focuses on local crossbred buffalo procurement to build the local dairy herd through continuous backcrossing, ultimately producing the Philippine Dairy Buffalo herd. Other components, including infrastructure development, health and feed development, and reproduction services, will also be implemented.

As of the latest updates, dated September 15, 2023:

• 35 cooperatives are actively engaged in the milk feeding program.
• Since its inception in 2019, a total of 36 operational value chains have been established under the ALAB Karbawan project, encompassing all segments of the Carabao-based Enterprise (CBE) value chain, including milk production, processing, and product marketing.
• The CBIN and CCDP projects have entrusted a total of 3,995 buffaloes, with 462 calves born, benefiting 1,800 farmer recipients.
• The number of conduit farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) involved in CBEs has steadily increased since the project’s launch in 2019, with 74 conduit cooperatives and 17 SCFOs (Small Coconut Farmers Organizations) now actively engaged.
• The total volume of milk produced has reached 1,149,664.32 liters.
• A total of 37 processing and marketing infrastructures, branded as Dairy Box, were established, with 36 of them currently operational, and an additional 42 are in the pipeline for construction.

With all these positive outcomes of accelerating livelihood opportunities and building cooperatives assets, the Senate Committee on Agriculture intends to finance the DHB for the next three years to fortify the foundation of the dairy buffalo sector.