The province of Nueva Ecija continues to pursue its bid to become the “Dairy Capital of the Philippines” as it observed the 7th edition of the annual “Gatas ng Kalabaw (Carabao’s Milk) Festival”, this time graciously hosted by the town of Gen. Natividad.
The festival, which was held November 15, at the town’s gymnasium, aims to promote the dairy buffalo’s milk not only for economic benefits but also for the promotion of health and nutrition among small-hold dairy farmers and their families as well as the consumers.
Highlight of this year’s 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 emphasized 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).
Speaking during the opening program, PCC chief of operations Dr. Annabelle Sarabia affirmed PCC’s continuous support to the local dairy farmers. She also thanked the local government units (LGUs) of Nueva Ecija and other agencies that are supporting PCC in its endeavor to develop and strengthen the local dairy industry for the benefit of the rural dairy farmers.
During the program, the Nueva Ecija provincial office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) awarded milking equipment and village-based milk collection centers to clustered dairy cooperatives in the towns of Guimba, Sto. Domingo, Llanera, and General Natividad during a ceremonial turn-over as part of DTI’s “Shared Service Facilities” program.
As a complementary feature of the festival, DTI provincial director Brigida Pili also launched the agency’s Diskwento Caravan”. The caravans offer discounted Nueva Ecija-made products that include, among others, food items, spices and hand-made baskets. The caravan aims to assist local entrepreneurs in promoting their products not only in the province but in other parts of Central Luzon as well.
Spearheaded by DTI in partnership with the Gen. Natividad LGU, the festival was participated in by officials from public agencies, LGUs, and dairy cooperatives from Gen. Natividad, Llanera, San Jose City, Science City of Munoz, and Talavera town. The municipality of Gen. Natividad has four PCC-assisted dairy cooperatives.
Gen. Natividad Mayor Areli Grace Santos, meanwhile, has accepted the request that her town serve again as host for the next festival, which will coincide with the foundation anniversary of her town in July, 2014.