Importance of the Philippine Carabao underscored anew

Undersecretary for Operations (Livestock) Jose C. Reaño has reiterated the significant role of the carabao or the swamp buffalo in Philippine Agriculture.

“The carabao is a major contributor in the agricultural industry. It provides us meat and dairy products for consumption and contributes to a more sustainable agriculture. Being an agricultural nation, we must give importance to carabao as it is owned by almost 99% of smallholder-farmers,”  he pointed out in his message delivered during the opening program of the 1st National Carabao Conference held Dec. 3-4 at the national headquarters and gene pool of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

The conference was attended by some 300 key stakeholders who are actively involved in the PCC’s Carabao Development Program (CDP), which included farmers, local government officials and representatives from various government agencies and private organizations.

Among the leading government officials who graced the opening program were Rep. Mark Llandro L. Mendoza, chairperson of the committee on agriculture and food at the House of Representatives, and Rep. Mark A. Villar of the lone district of Las Piñas City.

The gathering focused on the theme: “Celebrating Partnerships in Championing the Carabao Development Program.

Usec Reaño also stressed the importance of attaining the complete value chain of commodities by being productive.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort”, he pointed out, quoting the late Paul J. Meyer, a noted entrepreneur and author.

For his part, Rep. Mendoza reiterated the importance of close cooperation and linkage between  farmers and government agencies, such as PCC, to sustain development programs that will help boost the livestock sector, and address the food security and nutritional status of the farming communities.

Meanwhile, Dr. Arnel N. del Barrio, PCC acting executive director, expressed the hope that the 1st National Carabao Conference will lead to a positive result.

“This activity aimed to share information about the best practices and technologies in the dairy sector and we hope that this gathering becomes a dynamic and major contributor to agricultural development through the active participation of stakeholders of the livestock industry in its pursuit of achieving national food security, particularly through the Carabao Development Program,” he stated.

“We hope that this conference will become an avenue where key stakeholders of the carabao industry convene to formulate and implement appropriate measures based on informed and collaborative decision-making to address the current dairy issues and concerns,” Del Barrio added.

The conference featured presentations by various experts on the following topics:  Value Chain Analysis of Carabao and Carabao-based products in Luzon; Performance of the Carabao Industry; PCC programs in relation to food security; Industry Strategic Plan (ISP) for Dairy Buffalo; Impact Assessment of the PCC’s Carabao Development Program; of the PCC Dairyard Concept GKEF: Building the Filipino Dream through Private and Public Partnership; The Carabao Slaughter Ban: A Revisit, and Carabao Industry Advocacies and Legislative Agenda; and Climate Smart Strategies in addressing the El Niño phenomenon.

The conference participants were also provided with insights on government-funded activities and PCC partnerships of with the local government units in the conduct of CDP through the following topics: Shared Service Facility Scheme of the Department of Trade and Industry for Dairy; The DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program for Dairy, and Partnership Milestones in Nueva Ecija, Bohol and in some provinces of Region II.

Further, select cooperative chairpersons that have shown considerable success in raising buffaloes and engaging in carabao-based enterprises shared their unique strategies and experiences in dairying.

Other activities were a tour of PCC’s major facilities and a product exhibition.

The gathering was capped by a planning workshop that focused on solutions to key issues and concerns in the carabao dairy industry.

The National Carabao Conference is envisioned to be a regular annual activity as part of continuing initiatives to promote and enhance the development of the Philippine carabao industry with a view to making it a significant contributor to overall efforts to alleviate poverty, improve nutrition, enhance equitable income distribution and boost people empowerment.