Country’s move toward achieving milk self-sufficiency underscored in Dairy Congress in Bohol

Big developments are coming on the way of achieving higher milk production in the country which has been saddled with the problem of importing huge quantities of this commodity to supply the local demand.

Among these, according to the Dairy Confederation (DairyCon) of the Philippines Chairman Isidro Albano, are augmenting the base herd, creating new market niches, and raising the productivity and incomes of the dairy farmers.

These, he said, are included in the strategic plans and programs for the development of the local dairy industry, which were discussed in depth in the recently concluded 21st Dairy Congress and Expo held at the Bohol Cultural Center in Tagbilaran City, Bohol on May 23-25.

Other than that, strategic plans also include contributing to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) goal of increasing milk sufficiency in the country by 10%, and accelerating the realization of a self-reliant countryside.

Albano acknowledged that through the years, milk self-sufficiency has been one of the key challenges of the local dairy industry. Thus, this year’s congress focused on this major issue.

The country continues to import 99% of its milk requirements. However, as per reports released by the National Dairy Authority (NDA), the imports of milk and dairy products in 2017 declined by 8% (from 452.99 million kg. to 417.07 million kg.).

In terms of value, it went up to 12% (from total dairy import bill of US$807.72 million to US$903.10 million) indicating an increase in unit import cost of 21% and 29% in dollar terms and in pesos respectively.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, on the other hand, stated the Senate Policy Directions on Local Dairy Development and assured that bigger funds are coming to boost further performance of the livestock, poultry and dairy in the country.

In her keynote speech read by her representative and Chief-of-Staff, Atty. Rheagee Tamaña, Sen. Villar said she strongly endorsed the allotment of a higher budget for livestock and poultry during the Senate deliberations on the 2018 budget of the DA.

According to her, for a sector which is contributing 33% production, it is not fair for the livestock program to only get 2.7% of the DA’s entire budget which is Php1.2 billion.

In her speech, she cited the DA’s efforts to increase the local dairy production such as building multiplier farms in at least 1,000 communities in the country and crafting a five-year roadmap for livestock and dairy development which aims to increase the national cattle population from 2.5 million to 5 million, and raise milk production from one percent to 10 percent of the national requirement.

She also noted that each player in the livestock and dairy industries has to work together and implement the 2018 action plan in order to realize the common goal of milk self-sufficiency. She is hoping that the dairy sector will be the first to reach self-sufficiency among the agricultural sectors.

The dairy congress which adopted the theme “Moving towards Milk Self Sufficiency,” also bared for the Bohol farmers, the strategic road map that the agriculture sector adopted to realize the dream of transforming Bohol into becoming the “dairy capital of the country.”

Meanwhile, PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel del Barrio accentuated the contribution of carabao’s milk in the dairy industry. He stressed that prior to the creation of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), there were no so-called dairy carabaos nor was there a significant carabao’s milk production in the country.

“In 2017, based on the Philippine Statistics Authority, carabao’s milk contributed 35% to the local dairy production. It was an outcome of our efforts for 25 years,” he voiced out.

Dr. Del Barrio also posted a challenge to the DairyCon to open their arms and include the emerging and independent players of the dairy industry.

“The challenge is to increase more our local dairy production with the help of others as we cannot do it alone. We have to include everyone, everybody, and every partner which we think would be of help for us to develop the dairy industry,” he stressed.

The DairyConEx, through its plenary sessions, served as a platform for the exchange of strategies and insights on how to better address the pressing issues that the industry is facing as well as the needs of farmers, especially the smallholders, in terms of knowledge sharing, technology-transfer, post-harvest handling and market development.

Topics presented by PCC officials during the gathering were the “Best Practices on Carabao-based Dairy Enterprise in the Province of Bohol” by PCC at Ubay Stock Farm Center Director Dr. Caro Salces and dairy farmers and entrepreneurs Marilou Rojo, Grace Boyles, and Jesusa Danila; “Advances in Livestock Reproduction and their Potentials in Enhancing Dairy Production” by Dr. Eufrocina Atabay, PCC Scientist I; and “The Use of Non-Conventional Feedstuffs as Alternative Ingredients in the Preparation of Total Mixed Ration (TMR) for Dairy Animals” by PCC at Central Luzon State University Center Director Dr. Daniel Aquino.

Organized and held annually by the DairyCon of the Philippines, the congress was aimed at encouraging people to go into dairying to create wealth, livelihood and share the benefits of economic development nationwide. The ultimate goal is to create a permanent sector for dairy with globally competitive professional dairymen and farm workers.

Co-organizer of the event was the DA through the NDA with the PCC as co-sponsor.