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Philippine dairy industry

by Francis N. Tolentino

Last January 10, 2018, I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to visit the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija. I was personally assisted by PCC Executive Director Arnel N. del Barrio and other very cordial personnel of the center.

The PCC which was established by virtue of Republic Act 7307 in 1992 is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture mandated to ensure the “conservation, propagation, and promotion of water buffalo as important source of milk and meat, in addition to draft power and hide.” The Philippine Carabao Center is also the national lead agency in the livestock biotechnology research and development and advances programs that promote and enhance milk products and milk enterprise development.

My specially customized tour of the Carabao Center revealed to me the significance of PCC not simply as an R&D arm of the Department of Agriculture but more so as a highly essential element of the Philippine Dairy Industry. I was personally impressed with the state- of-the-art milk processing equipment and facilities in the center which I can say are nearly comparable with those found in other dairy producing countries such as New Zealand.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, as of July 2017, the total carabao inventory in the Philippines was at 2.88 million. This data clearly shows us the vast potential of the dairy industry in the Philippines if only the much-needed support can be made available to both farmers and dairy product entrepreneurs. Patronizing Philippine-made cheese, yogurts, and other milk products can greatly contribute to the growth and development of the Philippine daily industry.

As biotechnology proceeds along the lines of genetics enhancement for livestock resilience and increased productivity, our part as consumers is to ensure that milk and milk products produced in the country are prioritized over those that are imported. I would perhaps advance a little further in proposing that locally produced milk and milk products be declared tax free in milk-producing areas in order for the same to be equally competitive with imported ones.

Also, there is a need for more modern facilities and equipment for transport and delivery of raw milk around the nation such as milk tankers and refrigerator trucks. Other regions in the Philippines may also be identified as potential national dairy development centers in addition to the PCC. If only the concerned national government agencies can set all conditions right, the Philippine dairy industry promises to contribute greatly to national economic growth.

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