My last column on Sen. Chiz Escudero’s proposed bill amending the National Dairy Act of 1995 or R.A. 7884 was a coincidental introduction to my piece today. Renato “Abong” Tayag, who just turned 60 last May 29 and president of the Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL) made it a point that I join a recent trip to the Dealco Farm in San Ildefonso, Magalang where about two hundred cows were being bred for meat and dairy.

    The Dealco farm used to manage about 5,000 heads of Brahmans and other breeds from New Zealand during the early years of operations before the import-export industry was affected by the global economic crisis. Although their operation was cut down into a very low number of heads, still Dealco is a showcase and a model venture for the dairy industry. The farm employees said they are collecting an average of six-eight liters of milk from each head per day. The supply of fresh milk however goes to Manila for the LGUs nutrition program.

    There is no ready market to process large volume of fresh milk due to lack of facilities and investments. Only a few companies in Nueva Ecija, Lipa and Los Banos, Laguna ventured on dairy products such as milk drinks, ice cream, cheese and more.

    According to Dealco, the biggest challenge to the government is to develop the market for the dairy industry. Even if the country has the capability to breed imported cows and produce enough fresh milk for the consumers, still the milk has to be processed into powder or other semi-processed products.

    Escudero recently revealed that the Philippine government currently imports 85 percent of its annual dairy needs. Milk and dairy products have dislodged wheat as the country’s top agricultural import based on the latest report of the National Dairy Authority. Imports of milk and dairy products during the first half of 2007 reached 152.4 million liters valued at $302.31 million while local milk production during the same period was only 3.1 million liters worth $7.9 million. 

    The Department of Agriculture has an ongoing program on breeding imported cows for meat and dairy. This year, 800 heads from New Zealand will be dispersed in various regions. But the DA program is not supported by a comprehensive plan how to fully maximize the potential of the dairy industry.

    With the current problem on lack of storage facilities, processing and manufacturing plants and limited dairy market, the dairy industry will still be in a quandary. However, there is a way to help boost the dairy industry.

    The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has the One Town One Product (OTOP) program in support of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The OTOP project has proven to be a successful campaign to encourage diversified product development marketing in the countryside. However, this can still be improved by integrating the SME development programs with the DA’s own livelihood and agro-business campaigns.

    The Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL) headed by Tayag is proposing that the DTI and DA integrate their resources and networks and come up with a comprehensive program to develop the dairy industry. The SMEs can be encouraged either to venture anew or shift into dairy-related businesses in order to support the DA’s plan. There should be a holistic program to boost the dairy industry with the cooperation and joint effort of the DA and DTI.

    In a different note but same direction, the Department of Tourism – Region III in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH) – Region III held the 1st Human Influenza A(H1N1) Simulation Exercise last May 29, 2009 at Marlim Mansions Hotel, Balibago, Angeles City. The exercise is in line with the thrust of the national government in raising widespread awareness on the public health crisis known as the Influenza A(H1N1) pandemic. 

     DOT Regional Director Ronaldo Tiotuico said the workshop is meant to establish a cross industry information and messaging system on the current crisis involving human influenza virus, to encourage tourism integration into the national and local emergency preparedness plans and at the same time raise the preparedness level of tourism stakeholders thru role-playing or simulation workshops.


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