(Villar drinks her glass of carabao milk as children wait for their turn at the PCC in Muñoz. Photo by Armand Galang)
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ – Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, has expressed optimism that the Philippines, with a steppedup drive of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and farmers, can attain sustainability in dairy production.
Speaking before hundreds of farmers from different parts of the country for the PCC’s 26th anniversary celebration at the PCC National Headquarters and Gene Pool here on Tuesday, Villar noted that India became the biggest producer of dairy products through small scale or backyard producers.
“Itong India, ang tawag dito’y small farmers’ dairy kaya ang ibig sabihin sila ang example ng small farmers’ dairy. Nagtagumpay sila, magtatagumpay din tayo,” Villar said.
Farmers who produced carabao milk must be able to free themselves from poverty, she said, citing the testimony of a certain Malou, a housewife, who now earns some P18,000 a month from buffalo milk.
The housewife, having augmented her husband’s income, has been released from the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program otherwise known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). “So hindi na siya mahirap ngayon,” Villar stressed.
She likewise challenged PCC to step up its growth rate as local production reportedly covers only one percent of the country’s dairy requirement at present.
“Twenty-six years na sila, dapat one percent a year so dapat 26 percent. E bakit tayo one percent kaya yun ang challenge sa kanila,” she said.
But she lauded the agency’s efforts to help uplift farmers’ lives.
Villar said she allocated budget for PCC programs in the 2019 budget.
Dr. Arnel del Barrio, PCC executive director, said research and programs are being conducted in order to uplift the country’s carabao and dairy industry.
This, as the PCC takes “carapreneurship” as a “purpose focus” to empower farmers. The word is coined from carabao and entrepreneurship which means that farmers should really take buffalo and dairy production as business.
On Tuesday, the farmers were awarded machineries under the PCAAARD program as well as information on artificial insemination, loans, calf raising and dairy operation, silage production and commercialization, waste management and biogas production, dairy processing and marketing, carabao’s milk for soap and lotion making.