Monday, April 15, 2013

Bright future seen for Bicol milk industry
By John Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, April 14 (PNA) -- There is a bright future for the local milk industry, a top industry official told leaders of the dairy cooperatives in the region engaged in the production and processing of dairy milk.

The meeting was convened by the Bicol Dairy Council in the first-ever Dairy Congress in Bicol at the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture on April 11-12, organizers said this weekend.

Juan Lozano, Batangas Dairy Coop chair and the concurrent National chair of the Dairy Confederation of the Philippines who served as the key note speaker, made the claim, “especially as there is now an effort to distinguish between the real ‘fresh milk’ from the UHT milk (milk that has been heated to a very high temperature so that it can stay fresh for six months).”

“Putting an expiry date of six months in the milk labels is the best proof of misbranding being done by multinational companies that dominate our market today,” Lozano said.

He urged the dairy cooperatives to support the pending bill of Congresswoman Margarita Cojuangco on the regulation of the use of the word “Fresh Milk.”

“If there is a big support from the grassroots, we can convince the lawmakers to pass this bill. Only then will our local dairy processors have great chances in the market,” he added.

Lawyer Marito Bernales, CBSUA president, underscored the importance of dairy production as part of the government’s food sufficiency program, particularly in the Bicol region which ranks third among the poorest regions in the country, according to NEDA reports.

Bernales also expressed the university’s unwavering support to the management of the Bicol Dairy Council headed by its chair, Santiago Cervantes.

Cervantes also heads the Bicol Federation of Dairy Cooperatives, which was established by the CBSUA and Land O’Lakes in 2006 and is composed of seven dairy cooperatives,

Dr. Edgar R. Madrid, Department of Agriculture Bicol regional technical director for Research and Regulations, said the establishment of the three DA-operated dairy plants--the Sorsogon Dairy Farm, Sorsogon Dairy Processing Plant and Albay Dairy Plant--in 1960 paved the way for the birth of the dairy cattle program in the Bicol region.

There is also the dairy processing plant in Albay Breeding Station in Camalig town serving as show window for farmers.

All these DA-managed facilities have a total of 170 heads of dairy cattle of all ages.

He also identified the major issues besetting the industry--which are lack of dairy animals, poor marketing strategy, underutilized processing facilities, high mortality in animals and low repaying rate.

Cervantes, meanwhile, disclosed the sad state of the dairy industry in Bicol which has a total of 541 animals but is only producing 600-700 liters raw milk daily.

The BFDC chair said Bicol is producing only 270 liters of milk daily.

Cervantes said that much needs to be done to accelerate the development of the dairy industry here.

This year, he said, they acquired 10 heads of cattle imported from New Zealand through the assistance of the National Dairy Authority under the Dairy Multiplyer Farm Scheme.

This addition, he added, could bring about 80-100 liters of additional raw milk production per day.

Cervantes is optimistic that with the present partnership with CBSUA and the strong support of the DA regional office, they will attain a high level of productivity and stability in the coming years.

Jose Canaria of the Philippine Carabao Center discussed the Carabao Development Program.

The PCC has 13 centers nationwide and focuses on genetic improvement of carabaos through gene pool, carabao upgrading and artificial insemination in the rural areas.

Canaria encouraged the participants to invest in dairying as he says “Sa Dairy, ang Kita ay Daily.”

He said the PCC is offering training on carabao breeding to organize dairy co-ops that have shown good track record.

He added that Bicol is rich in forage grasses so there is no reason why dairy will not prosper here.

Also present during the congress were Dr. Jaime Lopez, NDA operations manager, and lawyer Ma. Lourdes Pacao, regional director of Cooperative Development Authority.(PNA)