The Sto. Niño Dairy Farmers Association (SANDAFA) officially ventures into dairy enterprise on February 28, 2020, through an infrastructure, which is the 1st ever dairy store in Region XII to market various carabao’s milk-based products of the cooperative and other smallholder farmers in nearby areas.
SANDAFA is being assisted by the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC) through its regional center headed by Dir. Benjamin John Basilio and hosted by the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
The launching started off with a motorcade in Surallah and nearby towns, graced by the PCC mascots “Kalaboy” and “Kalagirl” together with the students of Sultan Kudarat Senior High School from Province of Sultan Kudarat and Suinsangaan National Highschool from Sto. Niño, South Cotabato.
The main products featured during the event were the carabao’s milk-based delicacies of “Sweet Plate” such as macaroons, butter scotch, brownies, yema cake, braso de mercedes, and choco moist, as well as ice cream and flavored lacto juice from “Niño Fresh” made by the cooperative-processors of SANDAFA.
Carabao’s milk from D&L Dairy farm like pasteurized milk and choco milk also quenched and satisfied the thirst of the guests during the opening program.
Present during the grand opening were PCC’s institutional partners represented by Flora Gabunales, Regional Director of Department of Trade and Industry XII (DTI), Dr. Flora Bigot of Provincial Veterinarian Office (PVO), Mayor Pablo Jr. Matinong of Surallah Local Government Unit (LGU), and Surallah Municipal Agriculturist Loel Nillos.
During her speech, Ms. Gabunales (DTI) inspired the dairy farmers and provided positive aspirations for the SANDAFA. She emphasized the importance of packaging and uniqueness of products as well as the impact of social media in terms of creating awareness and promotion of products.
“Social media can make or break your products,” she averred.
On the other hand, she congratulated and challenged the cooperative to sustain the quality of its products. Moreover, she expressed further support to the SANDAFA and other stakeholders by mentioning about the shared service facility of DTI, as assistance to smallholder dairy farmers.
She said that the DTI will extend more help to further add more products to be sold in the store, as processing facility and equipment will be accessible to those who are still planning to develop their carabao-based products.
Dr. Bigot (PVO), on the other hand, talked about providing “counterpart” as an essential role of key players (e.g., milk provider, processor, and seller) in the said business venture. She gave the cooperative a challenge to produce the needed volume of milk to sustain the production of milk products.
Furthermore, she focused on the passion that has to be continuously developed in the hearts of the SANDAFA members, and the need to provide their carabaos (their livelihood source) tender loving care, such as providing nutritious forage through cut-and-carry feeding, among others.
Director Basilio expressed his gratitude to industry partners for their support to provide livelihood assistance and other related programs for farmers and/or clients through strengthening the PCC’s Carabao-based Enterprise Development Program.
He encouraged the dairy buffalo farmers by saying, “Start small, but think and dream big”.
For the closing remarks, Ms. Rovelyn Jacang from the PCC national headquarters congratulated and wished everyone a productive and successful venture. She stated the significance of SANDAFA dairy store as the first ever of its kind in Region XII, which also serves as a model for other dairy outlets to emulate.