“Dairying will help alleviate poverty among our dairy farmers especially when its potential (as a source of income) is maximized.”
This was emphasized by Mayor Areli Grace Santos of Gen. Natividad, Nueva Ecija in her message during the celebration of the 8th Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival held at the municipality on June 20.
The festival is an annual activity spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) to promote and strengthen the dairy industry in Nueva Ecija. It is hosted alternately by the different municipalities in Nueva Ecija. This year, the event was also sponsored by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
It was the second time for the municipality of Gen. Natividad to host the event, which coincided with the town’s celebration of its 57th founding anniversary. It first hosted the festival in 2013.
With the theme, “Gatas ng Kalabaw para sa Maunlad na Kabuhayan at Malusog na Pamayanan,” this year’s celebration focused on the different livelihood opportunities that can be generated from carabao’s milk as well as its contribution to health and nutrition of customers.
As a tradition in every Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival, representatives from different government agencies and LGUs led the ceremonial milk toast with 25 day-care pupils. This gesture is meant to symbolize the recognition of the importance of carabao milk in enhancing the health of people who partake of it and its contribution toward improving the economic well-being of the Filipino dairy farmers.
The milk toast also highlights the unified effort of both the private and public sectors to develop and strengthen the dairy industry in the province.
In his message, PCC deputy executive director Dr. Felomino V. Mamuad reaffirmed the agency’s continuous support to the festival and its determined efforts to further improve the dairy carabao industry in the country.
He also reiterated PCC’s goal to produce a Philippine Murrah that has the potential to produce more milk and thereby help increase the income of dairy farmers.
The DTI, in a move to encourage the dairy farmers in “businessing” their milk produce, brought its Small and Medium Enterprise Roving Academy (SMERA) to the festival.
Mina Abella, officer in charge of the PCC’s dairy processing unit at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), discussed the various business opportunities in dairy processing that the dairy co-ops may venture into.
On the other hand, Ma. Odessa Manzano, account officer for the Dairy Industry Cluster of DTI, talked on how the dairy farmers can properly and wisely handle their finances.
Various contests were also staged during the event. These included the search for the “Natatanging Gatasang Kalabaw” based on the dairy buffalo’s body condition and milk yield, cooking using carabao’s milk, and milk drinking participated in school children and adults. The contestants in the first two competitions were the dairy farmers from the four PCC-assisted dairy co-ops in Gen. Natividad town.
The DTI also brought in the Diskwento Caravan, which sold prime and basic goods at discounted prices. A variety of items produced by small and medium enterprises in Nueva Ecija, such as footwear, processed foods (vegetables and fruits), handicrafts, and dairy products, among others, were brought in and sold by the caravan.
Different dairy cooperatives in the province, representatives of government agencies, officials from the provincial and local government units of Nueva Ecija, and other dairy industry stakeholders in the province also participated in the festival.
Meanwhile, the Science City of Muñoz, where PCC is located, will host the next Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival.