SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ — Sen. Cynthia Villar on Friday urged the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) to continue “working with their significant partners, including the governments of US, Japan, and Korea and other national government agencies, both houses of Congress, as well as the regional, provincial, and municipal local government units” to address the challenges in milk production.
Speaking before agriculture and food stakeholders during the celebration of the PCC’s 30th anniversary at the agency’s headquarters and gene pool here, Villar noted the country’s total milk production together with the National Dairy Authority and other government agencies was placed at only one percent of domestic demand.
“The main challenges that the sector faces such as water scarcity, mechanization, low reproductive efficiency, low forage production, and lack of records that would help track the evolution of the dairy farms’ production has not been addressed,” she said.
Villar who also chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food noted that the Philippine population is expected to balloon from over 110 million today to about 145 million by 2050 thus “our food insecurity will remain an issue in the decades ahead.”
This, she said, include the lack of locally produced milk.
“Not enough milk in a child’s diet has a ripple effect on his health. If the child cannot grow healthy and strong, he will have difficulty to learn in school and when he gets older, he will have a problem to earn a living and to eventually be a productive member of society. This has to be prevented,” Villar stressed.
With the PCC and the Philippine Coconut Authority, Villar said, she has pushed for the establishment of cooperatives engaged in carabao milk production nationwide in 2019 by inserting in RA 11037 or the Masustansiyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act, a portion mandating the Department of Education to purchase milk from those cooperatives for its milk feeding program.
Created in 1992 by virtue of RA 7307, the PCC was mandated to pursue the conservation, propagation and promotion of the water buffalo as a source of milk and meat.
This year’s anniversary is anchored on the theme “PCC at 30: Continuing the Legacy of Service Excellence and Synergy.”
The law also supports the establishment of community organizations and cooperatives envisioned to grow into independent and potent avenues in promoting carabao-based enterprises, the senator added.
“PCC should have, through the years, multiplied the number of persons equipped with the knowledge and skills to become technicians, farmers-resource persons and extension agents. They promote countryside information on carabao health and sanitation, nutrition and feeding management, breeding and reproduction, including the establishment of cooperatives or production clusters for more strategic business approaches,” Villar furthered.
She said she has provided additional budget support for PCC for the propagation and distribution of milking carabaos in all the PCC centers nationwide starting this year and the removal of the “paiwi” system or the loan to farmer’s scheme.
By removing “paiwi” system, the farmer who received a head of carabao from the government will no longer be obliged to return a calf.
Dairy animals produced in their centers should be given free to farmers’ coops or associations, she said.
“Milk security is still the challenge for PCC now and in the future. It should continue to champion locally produced Carabao milk’s by making it available, accessible, and affordable to all,” the senator said.