San Jose City’s top dairy co-op inaugurates new shared service facility

The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) hopes that by 2016 the carabao fresh milk production level of the country’s buffalo dairy farmers shall have reached the two-million liter mark.

This was the optimistic forecast made by Dr. Arnel N. del Barrio. acting PCC executive director, in his message during the inauguration of the newly completed shared service facility of the Eastern Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative (EPMPC) of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija held March 18 at the co-op’s headquarters in Brgy. Sibut

The shared service facility houses the co-op’s refrigerators, freezers, cooking equipment and a new cooling tank donated by PCC. The unit was handed over by DA secretary Proceso Alcala to the co-op in a ceremony held March 20 at the PCC headquarters.

The cooling tank can store 300 liters of milk under a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius and can keep milk safe for three days.

The shared service facility was jointly put up by PCC, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the San Jose City local government unit.

The EPMPC was organized and accredited in 1992. It first ventured into farming onions and rice but due to the limited seasonal harvest of crops, its members were unable to cope with their loan obligations and the coop experienced serious financial problem. In 2000, the coop was granted by PCC a 25-head module of purebred dairy buffaloes and one bull. From that point on, the coop started its successful recovery.

The cooperative, which currently has 50 active members, registered an income of Php503,325 in 2014.

Noting that the EPMPC is among the top-performing dairy cooperatives being assisted by PCC, Del Barrio congratulated the cooperative for being the first coop to milk carabaos twice a day in the entire Philippines.

“Ngayon, sumasaludo na ako sa inyo, kayo pala talaga ang number one (dairy cooperative) [Now I salute you, you are the real number one],” del Barrio declared.

Aside from being a PCC-assisted group, the EPMPC is also a part of DAR’s Village Level Processing Center Enhancement Project (VLPCEP). The VLPCEP aims to help “develop market-competitive Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations’ products and enhance enterprise and livelihood activities at the community level in selected agrarian reform areas through assistance in product value-adding, improvement of facilities, and assistance in documentation and license application.”

In a statement during the program, Iryn R. Magcalas, VLPCEP regional director, said that being a part of the VLPCEP is not an easy feat. Every cooperative must pass a set of criteria to be included the project. Such criteria include the following: that a cooperative must have existing products and processing center, raw materials for products, must have a sustainable source, owns a lot and building that serve as its headquarters and if not, at least has the landowner’s permission for the coop’s building, products sold or the enterprise must have a regular market, and workers should have health certificates.

DAR deemed it worthy for the EPMPC to be part of the VLPCEP and started helping the co-op in 2014.

Also present in the event was Eladio L. Duran, DTI Nueva Ecija division chief. Aside from his brief congratulatory message, he donated in behalf of his department a refrigerator for milk storage.

For her part, San Jose City Mayor Marivic V. Belena recognized the carabao as a year-round source of income. She said that compared to rice and onions, which are also primary commodities of the city, the carabao can be a source of income for the whole year while the crops are only harvested bi-annually.

She also wished that someday, the city will be recognized for its being a top producer of carabao milk and hailed for its quality carabao milk products.

“Kaya po kami naging successful, tiningnan po namin ang gatas ng kalabaw [bilang] negosyo. Na sa negosyong ito ay walang lugi at may kita araw-araw. Di katulad ng palay at sibuyas na takot sa bagyo at ulan, lahat ng panahon ay pabor sa kaniya basta may tamang pag-aalaga at pagtingin sa kita [We became successful because we saw the carabao milk as a business. That in this business, there is no waste, everyday there is profit. Not like rice and onions that can be destroyed by storm and strong rains, all seasons are in favor of the carabao, so long as you give it proper care and treatment,” Melchor R. Correa, EPMPC chairman, said.