The DA-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC) and its assisted cooperatives commit to further expanding their efforts to achieve the DA’s goal of completely self-sourcing milk for the National Milk Feeding Program.
Pursuant to RA 11037 or the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act, the DA-PCC tapped its assisted co-ops to supply the demands for the milk feeding program led by the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
For the 2024 implementation, 50% of the milk requirements for the feeding program will be provided by the DA-PCC’s assisted cooperatives while the remaining half is set to be supplied by the assisted co-ops of the National Dairy Authority (NDA). This concerted effort aligns with the DA’s overarching objective of providing 100% of the requirements for the milk feeding program.
DA Undersecretary and Chairperson of committees related to livestock Deogracias Victor Savellano underscored the need to overcome the lingering 13% dependency on commercially outsourced milk, as evidenced by prior implementations.
DA-PCC OIC Executive Director Dr. Caro Salces attributed this challenge to logistical hurdles in far-flung areas. The reliance on traditional delivery methods has often resulted in delays and inadequate supply, leaving many children without the nutrition they require for healthy growth and development.
Recognizing the need for an innovative solution to ensure consistent supply of milk, the DA-PCC, in partnership with its assisted co-ops, has turned to retort facilities to bridge the gap in its delivery capabilities. Retort technology involves using airtight packaging and heat processing to sterilize and preserve milk, extending its shelf life significantly without compromising its nutritional value. This method not only ensures the safety and quality of the milk but also allows for bulk transportation to regions where frequent deliveries are impractical.
“We now have existing retort facilities in Isabela, Science City of Muñoz, Batangas, and Sorsogon managed by our partners in the industry. We also have plans to establish similar facilities in Bohol and Zamboanga del Sur to cater to the Visayas and Mindanao areas,” Dr. Salces remarked.
Furthermore, DA-PCC is poised to establish milk laboratories within its 12 regional centers nationwide, offering cooperative members access to milk quality testing services. These initiatives are made possible through a locally funded project spearheaded by Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform.
Beyond infrastructure developments, the DA-PCC is set to employ a series of strategic measures. These include enhancing carabao smallholder farms’ productivity through the establishment of National Dairy Herd Improvement system in partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency, improving milk production through increased number of dairy animals and sufficient feeding, establishing dairy herd buildup through the new coop conduit scheme, and carrying out massive artificial insemination activities, among others.
Since its inception in 2019, the milk feeding program has already proven its worth, benefiting over 4.2 million undernourished children and concurrently boosting the income of 53 DA-PCC-assisted cooperatives, collectively garnering a total revenue of PHP2 billion.