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DAR-Bicol into fresh milk production advocacy

balita-phLEGAZPI CITY, March 17 (PNA) -– The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has embraced the production of quality fresh milk as another advocacy towards raising the earning power of farmers in Albay.

DAR Regional Director Luis Bueno Jr. on Tuesday said his agency, under its project called Up-Valuing of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) Product, is pushing the local dairy farmers who are covered by the Albay Dairy Cooperative (ADC) into improving to international standard the quality of fresh milk they produce.

Superior quality products means greater income for its producers and the DAR, Bueno said, wants Albay ARBs who are also into dairy farming to realize this goal to at least help reduce the high rate of poverty confronting Albayanos.

He said the project is in coordination with the National Dairy Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry which offered to provide the necessary training and technology transfer to address ADC’s needs in the production, processing, product development that includes branding, and marketing of their fresh milk products.

ADC has over 100 members, most of them ARBs engaged in dairy farming and given the growing demand for fresh milk products not only in the local market but also nationwide, the project, according to Bueno, will certainly level up the quality and marketability of their products for better income.

He said that under the project, the NDA has committed to help the ADC in the value-adding to its products by way of providing them inputs on careful business planning and adherence to legal and technical regulations that would enable them to market high-quality but reasonably-priced fresh milk.

The same agency will also teach the local dairy farmers on good hygienic practices in the production of clean, safe and good quality fresh milk that should be low in bacterial count, has a pleasant creamy smell and color, no dirt extraneous matter and residues of antibiotics and pesticides, according to Bueno.

The DTI, on the other hand, will provide assistance in the label design, branding and marketing strategies such as making the product available in locations that are convenient and easily accessible to consumers and making door-to-door deliveries.

Bueno said dairying is not new to ARBs in the country as a number of existing dairy zones located for example in Bulacan, Quezon Province, Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Zamboanga del Norte have been benefiting families in agrarian reform communities (ARCs).

The idea of introducing the project in Albay is motivated by this experience which when replicated in the province could potentially accelerate participation of more smallholders that would not only help them earn additional income but make them contributors to the further development of the country’s dairy industry, according to Bueno.

There is a growing domestic demand for fresh milk and while the Department of Agriculture (DA) accepts that the Philippines cannot compete in the powdered milk market, it believes that it can focus on supplying fresh milk to the market.

Coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and small grocery shops make up the commercial outlets for local milk and absorb about 60 percent of production while local government units (LGUs) that sponsor milk-feeding programs consume about 40 percent.

As provided by law and implemented by the NDA, smallholder dairies have priority as suppliers of government-sponsored milk feeding programs whose significant impact is on decreasing the incidence of malnutrition among children.

When the ADC comes to the point of maximizing high-quality fresh milk production, Bueno said, LGUs, for social and political gains of mayors or governors, could already expand their engagement in feeding programs and support to the local dairy industry for a steady supply, children’s nutrition and income for farmers, as well.

The Philippine Carabao Center, a world-class research institution for buffalo whose studies and research on genetic improvement are directed towards making the Philippine carabao a major milk supplier for the country, could also tapped into this project, particularly in animal dispersal.

While 63 percent of national milk production comes from cattle and only 36 percent from carabao with one percent from goat, the emphasis on carabao is based on climate suitability and the huge number of animals on the ground that may potentially be upgraded to a dairy buffalo breed.

In support to this DAR project, Albay third district’s Rep. Fernando Gonzalez has recently filed a bill in the House of Representatives that seeks the establishment of a Carabao Center in Ligao City in addition to the 13 existing ones across the country.

It is hoped that with this legislative measure, Bicol shall be assured of the continued conservation, propagation and promotion of the carabao or water buffalo as a source of milk and meat as well as draft animal power and hide to benefit its rural farmers, according to Gonzalez.

Citing a report from the PCC, he said, carabao's milk is considered the finest among dairy animal milk, being richer and creamier than that of cow or goat owing to its high percentage of milk fat which is a good source of energy. (PNA)

Source: http://balita.ph/2015/03/18/dar-bicol-into-fresh-milk-production-advocacy/

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