Filipino dairy farmers: emerging contributors to the economy

Filipino dairy farmers are now in a position to raise their status from a seemingly lowly profession to being profoundly proud of their collective contribution to the economy, according to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala.

This development comes on the heels of various interventions being done to move the steadily growing dairy industry at a faster clip to boost productivity.

“Sa ating mga maggagatas, pwede na po tayong muling mangarap. Apat na taon na ang nakararaan ay nandito rin ako sa lugar na ito upang simulan ang isang makahulugang tunguhin at ito po ay ang pagsusulong ng Organic Agriculture Act. Sa lugar din pong ito, mangangarap tayong muli at manunumpang tutuparin ang pangarap na iyon (To our dairymen, we can dream again. Four years ago, I was in this same place to launch a new endeavor made possible with the Organic Agriculture Act. In this same place, we will start another dream and we vow to make that dream a reality),” he declared.

Secretary Alcala made the remarks in a keynote speech during the Dairy Congress and Expo held in Davao City on May 12-14. Farmers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and other stakeholders in the dairy industry participated in this gathering, which has become an annual event starting in 2005.

Secretary Alcala emphasized that the smallholder dairy farmers’ dream to progress can only be realized through strengthened partnership between the government and the private sector.

He renewed his promise that he would be, at all times, conscious of the interests of farmers whose experiences are contributory to the determination of government policies affecting the agriculture sector.

“I will continue listening to our farmer folks. It is only through this means that progress can be felt more in the countryside,” Secretary Alcala said.

He added that when the farmers’ interests are considered in the government’s decision-making process, they will feel more involved and, thus, empowered.

In recognition of the important contribution of dairy farmers, Secretary Alcala gave the assurance that his administration will sustain the much-needed assistance to ensure the development of a more vibrant dairy industry.

Part of this sustained government assistance is the importation of selected animals as a means of beefing up the country’s dairy herd, which is one of the critical components of the local dairy industry.

Aside from herd build-up, the development of dairy-based enterprises, upholding assurance on milk quality and milk feeding for children will be pushed, he said.

Further, funds will be allocated for the creation of a buy-back program for island-born dairy cattle and carabao with proven performance to conserve the best quality genetics. A technical working group will be immediately formed for this purpose, he added.

The agriculture secretary revealed that genetic traceability is another direction that the dairy sector envisions to take.

He explained that a traceability system for livestock animals in the herd is an effective tool for ensuring protection of animal health, public health and food safety.

This is one of the important initiatives of the government to protect its foot and mouth (FMD) disease-free without vaccination status, he said.

In May this year, the Philippines was declared FMD-free without vaccination by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) or World Organization for Animal Health during its 79th general session in Paris, France.