DA to seek higher budget to overhaul dairy program

Published January 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

Upon acknowledging the “observation” of Senator Cynthia Villar about the country’s poor milk production, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said this could be addressed, especially if the Senate and House of Representatives could allot more budget for an overhauled dairy program.

“We acknowledge the observation of Senator Cynthia Villar on the real situation of the country’s dairy industry, particularly the measly supply of locally-produced milk,” the DA said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We will seek increased budget from Congress to launch a revitalized dairy industry roadmap up to 2022 that will serve as foundation to adequately meet the annual per capita milk consumption of 22 kilograms,” it added.

During a hearing of the Senate agriculture and food committee, Villar said it is the government’s poor dairy program that is making Filipino school children dull.

She also zeroed in on DA’s attached agencies Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and National Dairy Authority (NDA), saying the two agencies have been existing for more than 20 years but failed to improve the country’s total dairy production.

“99 percent [of our dairy output] are still imported,” Villar said.
As a response, DA said there is indeed a need to increase the population of dairy cattle and upgraded carabaos that could produce at least 12 to 15 liters of milk per day.

When asked how much increase in budget the agency is looking to request to Congress, DA Spokesperson Noel Reyes only said “Secretary [William] Dar said we will seek ‘significant’ budget”.

As a start, the DA intends to “overhaul” the programs and respective targets of the NDA and the PCC. It also wants to encourage the active participation of the private sector, local government units and concerned agencies, particularly the Department of Education, and Department of Health through its National Nutrition Council.

In particular, the PCC and NDA will be ordered to massively improve the genetics of dairy buffaloes and cattle to produce seven liters and 18 liters, respectively.

DA will also expand the country’s current herd of 7,573 head of purebred dairy buffaloes and 14,354 tropicalized dairy cattle.

“We will optimize the limited dairy stocks of PCC, NDA and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) together with the LGUs, and select the best males as semen donors for artificial insemination throughout the country, transforming about 100,000 native animals every year as potential dairy milk producers,” the agency said.

“We will focus in provinces that have the comparative advantage in producing dairy milk,” it added.

In 2019, the country’s dairy sector produced 23.69 million liters of milk and has registered annual growth equivalent to 5.4 percent, which the DA admitted is “not enough”.