The local dairy industry in La Union and Pangasinan, which are service areas of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center at Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DA-PCC at DMMMSU), is expected to hit a vibrant mood as the latter signals the DA-PCC’s participation in the national milk feeding program.
Led and implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd), the DA-PCC joins the effort in the nationwide School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) pursuant to Republic Act No. 11037 also known as the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act”, by linking DepEd to the suppliers of milk from participating dairy buffalo cooperatives.
Also joining the cause are local government units of select school beneficiaries and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“This program will provide dairy value chain players with sustainable livelihood while boosting the local dairy industry and ultimately benefitting undernourished children,” DA-PCC Executive Director Dr. Arnel Del Barrio said.
Championing this very agenda is Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Cynthia Villar who funded the project titled Carabao-based Business Improvement Network (CBIN), popularized as “Accelerating Livelihood Assets Buildup (ALAB)-Karbawan”.
Entrustment of milk processing equipment to Bantog Samahang Nayon Multipurpose Cooperative (BSNMPC), the conduit co-op of DA-PCC for this project, is one of the CBIN’s initiatives.
Included in the milk production and processing equipment and materials for entrustment are eight chest freezers, 150 ice boxes, three vehicles for transporting milk, three display chillers, 250,000 milk sachets, stickers for labels and kitchen utensils.
Said ceremonial entrustment, slated on September 9 in Asingan, Pangasinan, ensures that dairy farmers are soon to have a steady stream of income from their dairy venture while giving milk consumers an assurance that the products produced by the co-op and sold in the Dairy Box outlet are of high quality.
In the provinces of La Union and Pangasinan, some 172 schools were identified for the SBFP benefitting about 65,097 schoolchildren ages 6 to 12 years old.
“We hope this program will encourage more farmers to consider dairying as a business opportunity. We aim to help our communities rise above mere subsistence and eventually boost the local dairy industry in the region,” Vilma Gagni, officer-in-charge of DA-PCC at DMMMSU, said.
Nationwide, the feeding program is looking to serve 394,433 undernourished children who are in Kindergarten to Grade 6 and are also SBFP beneficiaries for hot meals. Each child will receive 200 ml toned carabao’s milk for at least 20 feeding days.
In June 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA No. 11037 to address the problem of undernutrition among Filipino children through a National Feeding Program of which one of the components is the Milk Feeding Program with fresh milk or fresh milk-based product as additional component to hot meals.