Incoming DA secretary vows to make milk feeding in public schools a national program

Incoming Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” F. Piñol has vowed to intensify the DA’s support to the milk feeding program by making it a national program. Such plan aims to address the problem of dairy farmers in marketing and distribution of milk and at the same time help alleviate malnutrition among school children.

After he was named by presumptive President Rody Duterte, Sec. Piñol embarked into “Biyaheng Bukid” (countryside tour) to feel the heat of the situation of the agriculture sector in the most impoverished areas around the country.

As part of his “Biyaheng Bukid”, Sec. Piñol recently visited PCC National Headquarters and Gene Pool along with the other DA attached agencies in the Science City of Muñoz last June 10 to see for himself the outcomes and the relevant issues about their respective programs.

The agriculture secretary was toured by PCC top personnel at the Milka Krem where carabao’s milk products such as mozzarella, bocconcini, kesong puti, pastillas, yoghurt, fresh milk and different flavoured milk drinks were served. Thereafter, he was ushered to the national gene pool to visit the purebred buffaloes and later toured the Livestock Innovations and Biotechnology Center wherein he was briefed about the PCC program in a video presentation featuring success stories of farmers.

Eastern Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative chairman Melchor Correa, who served as the representative of the buffalo dairying community, shared his testimony on how the PCC’s program helped them improve their daily living.

“In dairying, climate change is never a problem. We can still harvest milk from our buffaloes whether it is raining or shining. In fact, I am earning more than Php2,000 a day from the milk sales. I won’t need to look for another source of income since I am netting more than enough. Also, I am now hiring workers so that I could also be of help to others especially to those farmers like me,” he said in Filipino.

“I can say that carabao raising is indeed a successful venture and I think PCC has done its job well in implementing the program and we are the fruits of its success. We are the face of triumph of PCC in its pursuit of helping improve the lives of smallhold farming families,” he declared.

In behalf of the dairy farmers, Correa also took the opportunity to ask for help from the government in their problem with the supply and demand of milk. “We hope the secretary can help us address this problem through institutionalization of the milk feeding program,” he said.

In response to Correa’s entreaties, Secretary Piñol said:

“Even before you have mentioned that problem, we already have a crafted program. The concept is from milk collection you will deliver it at the pasteurizing area and then we will have a milk feeding program in public schools from grades 1-4. We will support that program and it will be a national program. That is what we would like to happen and our target are those children in places or areas with high rates of malnutrition”.

According to him the program would be multipurpose. It will serve as a business for the dairy farmers, job for the farmworkers, and a channel to address malnutrition among children.

“We will coordinate our efforts with the National Dairy Authority and Department of Education to identify schools or barangays that have high rates of malnutrition and we’ll focus our program there. If the carabao program could be replicated in other province successfully, then we will support it all the way,” he said.

He also bared one of their incoming programs and aspirations together with the incoming President Duterte, which includes provision of identification card to farmers so that their names will be included in the database and be able to avail pension fund and life insurance.

Before the end of his statement, he expressed his appreciation towards the positive impact of PCC’s programs on the lives of dairy farmers.

“Thank you for bringing me here. After listening to your stories, my impression about PCC has changed for good. I will surely come back. Your program is acceptable, just make sure to improve carabaos not only for milk but for draft purposes as well,” he said.