The 9th edition of Nueva Ecija’s annual “Gatas ng Kalabaw (Carabao’s Milk) Festival” was showcased anew on December 9 as the province continues its relentless pursuit to be recognized and declared as the “Dairy Capital of the Philippines”.
With the Science City of Muñoz acting as host, this year’s celebration coincided with the city’s 15th charter anniversary and the 3rd Uhay Festival.
The milk festival is aimed at promoting dairy buffalo milk not only for economic benefits but also for the enhancement of health and nutrition among small-hold dairy farmers and their families as well as the consumers in general.
The celebration started with a parade participated by officials from government agencies, local government units (LGUs), and dairy cooperatives from Gen. Natividad, Llanera, San Jose City, Science City of Muñoz and Talavera towns.
“This festival aims to showcase the importance of carabao’s milk not only to farmers but also to all of us,” Dr. Nestor L. Alvarez, mayor of Science City of Muñoz, said in his opening remarks during the program held at the city’s gymnasium.
Highlight of the celebration was the symbolic “tagay pugay (toast of salutation)”, a simultaneous milk toasting and drinking featuring school children and representatives from partner private institutions and government agencies. It underscored the significance of multi-sectoral efforts in promoting and uplifting the local dairy industry in Nueva Ecija, which is the National Impact Zone (NIZ) of the Carabao Development Program (CDP) of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).
The PCC also prepared a 6×4-feet size of kesong puti (white cottage cheese) which was served with pan de sal as breakfast fare for the participants.
Other activities involved were ecumenical service, trade fairs, milk feeding program and cooking demo on how to make mozzarella and pastillas tart.
Meanwhile, PCC deputy executive director Dr. Felomino V. Mamuad encouraged everyone present in the celebration to help uplift the dairy industry in the country and help improve the volume of carabao milk produce in Nueva Ecija province for it to be declared as the “milk capital of the Philippines”.
He also extended PCC’s gratitude to the LGUs of Nueva Ecija and other agencies that are supporting PCC’s endeavors to develop and strengthen the local dairy industry for the benefit of local dairy farmers.
Spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in partnership with the Science City of Munoz LGU, the carabao milk festival is also aimed at promoting local products and for the people to be aware of and patronize the province’s locally produced commodities.
The festival, which was initiated in 2007, involves technical working groups headed by PCC, DTI, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA) as well as provincial and local government units.
The LGUs of San Jose, Llanera, Talavera, General Natividad, and the Science City of Muñoz are involved in the hosting of the festival as part of the efforts to promote the one-town-one-product (OTOP) system.
DTI Provincial Director Brigida Pili reiterated to the audience the quest of the province to be recognized as the “Dairy Capital of the Philippines”.
“There are also other provinces which are aiming for the title whereas, for me, but I am not lifting our own chair, I know and PCC knows that Nueva Ecija has the most number of carabaos and the most number of liters of milk produce. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s help each other achieve our dream of becoming the ‘dairy capital of the Philippines’. I fervently hope that the determination and commitment would come from all of us,” she emphasized.
During the program, the DTI provincial director revealed that to date the agency has awarded milking machines to 13 dairy cooperatives. She also announced that before the year 2015 ends, it will award Php300,000 worth of equipment to Catalanacan Multi-Purpose Cooperative as part of DTI’s “Shared Service Facilities” program.