Raising dairy carabaos is now an added feature of “Palayamanan Plus Nuestra”, a project of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
Rizal G. Corales, supervising science research specialist and project leader, said the add-on will further boost the income of participating farmers.
He explained that the project title is a combination of the words “Palayamanan” and “Nuestra”.
“Palayamanan”, a term which came from two words: palayan (rice farm) and yamanan (gold mine), or literally, making the rice farm a gold mine, highlights the concept of intensive and integrated farming in which every inch of space on the farm is utilized for production of various crops and livestock.
“Nuestra”, on the other hand, refers to a model that will serve as service provider for technologies, capacity enhancement activities, custom services, enterprise development, financing and market access to the smallholder farmers.
He added that “Nuestra” also stands for “Nucleus Estate Strategy” that it is now being fully developed in an area within the PhilRice station in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
“In Palayamanan, diversification, intensification and integration (DII) strategies will be used,” Corales said.
“It is expected to increase production outputs and therefore the income of the farmers,” he added.
Diversification, he explained, means diversifying farm inputs to diversify production and income. It includes other crops and commodities, such as corn, peanuts and livestock particularly goat, and now carabao, among others, he added.
On the other hand, intensification involves increasing the cropping intensity over space and time, he explained.
“It means maximizing the use of land to plant additional crops, forages or roughages in between harvest season when most of farmers’ land are underutilized,” he stated.
“Integration means all the component crops or commodities that will be established on the farm should complement each other such that it will be both beneficial to the farmer and to the environment,” he stressed.
Corales pointed out that the project would not be possible without collaborating with other government agencies and private entities.
The PCC is one such government agency, he said.
“Last October 2014, we coordinated with the PCC. Through a memorandum of agreement (MOA), signed by PCC acting executive director Dr. Arnel N. Del Barrio and then PhilRice executive director Dr. Eufemio Rasco, both parties agreed to help each other in the project. PCC is in-charge of providing the livestock (dairy buffalo) component and relevant support for the envisaged Palayamanan Plus Nuestra project,” Corales said.
He said that under the MOA, the PCC will allocate 5 to 10 head of dairy buffaloes as added component to the project.
“Though our project is still under experimentation, we initially implemented it in Bulacan, Pampanga and Aurora. This year, we are planning to open and implement it in Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Pangasinan and Isabela,” Corales revealed.
He said they are asking assistance from PCC on where to locate the project that will enlist dairy carabao farmers in Nueva Ecija.
According to Corales, Director Del Barrio suggested to them to implement the project close to PCC’s established dairy buffalo farmers since most of those individuals are already capable of managing buffaloes and are already knowledgeable and skillful in carrying out the job.
He said that the PCC head has given assurance of full assistance and collaboration to contribute to help make the project a success.
He explained that carabao-raising can contribute income through the animal’s milk, meat and manure.
As an example, he said: “If a particular farmer would be given five dairy carabaos and three of them will lactate at the same time, he will be harvesting at least 15 liters of milk every day in a 305 days lactation period. This means that the farmer will be earning at least P225,000 as additional income from his farm”.
“The selling of male calves and the vermicast (a product that can be made from carabao manure) that will be produced are additional sources of income from carabao-raising,” he added.
Corales said that the “Palayaman plus Nuestra” project could become a national program because of the possible impact that it can create in the future. He added that aside from the main objective of increasing the farmers’ income, the project can also help spin-off agribusiness in a particular community, increase production inputs, create positive impact on the environment, and give farmers sufficient and nutritious food.
“At the moment, aside from the PCC, we’re also collaborating with other agencies and private entities such as the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), National Dairy Authority (NDA), among others. We believe that these collaborations are our key in attaining success for this project,” Corales said.