Yamang Bukid Farms and the city government have pooled resources to scale up the local production of carabao milk and provide additional income opportunities to farmers.
The leading private agri-enterprise group and the City Veterinary Office (CVO) have launched a program dubbed “Abante Kalabaw! Sulong Puerto Princesa”, which aims to raise the number of dairy producers among buffalo owners.
Under the project, the CVO will help in insemination and orienting owners how to produce dairy from buffaloes while the Yamang Bukid Farm will work on the marketing side of the project.
City veterinarian Dra. Indira Santiago said that this project could have many implications such as increasing number of buffalos, additional supply of dairy, and food source for household requirements.
“Sabi nga ni mayor (Lucilo Bayron), dati naka-focus ang karamihan ng proyekto sa improvement ng tourism facilities, tourist attractions — medyo naisantabi natin ‘yong sa pagkain at agrikultura. Nag-isip tayo ng pamamaraan kung paano natin matutulungan ang mga kasamahan na nawalan ng trabaho. Kasama rin doon ang mga household na may-ari ng kalabaw na nanganak na, ‘yong iba buntis, iba hindi pa,” she said.
“Hindi lang ma-increase ang number ng kalabaw sa Puerto Princesa kung hindi makapag-produce din ng livelihood sa mga may-ari ng kalabaw na babae. Maraming implications ito, unang-una, dadami ang ating kalabaw, magatasan ang kalabaw at magiging food source in terms of pambahay o commercial in terms ng pag-supply ng gatas,” Santiago added.
Santiago said that insufficient supply of dairy in the city and province is a problem being faced by the implementation of milk feeding programs by the Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Puerto Princesa and the province.
The product of the project could address this concern, she said.
She said that there is already a dispersal of animals for livestock in the city, but based on her observation, it was not that “impactful” due to the lack of knowledge of some beneficiaries in maintaing and sustaining what they have received.
“Noong mga nakaraan, namimigay ng dispersal, marami ng binigay ang gobyerno na mga kalabaw na naka-scatter sa siyudad ng Puerto pero hindi siya ganoon ka-impactful kasi kahit magbigay ka ng 100 kalabaw, kung bibigyan mo ay hindi marunong mag-sustain o mag-alaga. Samantala ‘yong mga may-ari ng kalabaw ay pagmamay-ari na nila ‘yon, ibig sabihin matagal na nila inalagaan, taon,” she said.
Santiago said this made her office decide to focus on those who already own buffaloes as they already have the knowledge and experience.
Additional livelihood opportunities
Yamang Bukid Farm vice president for community relations George Maria said that as the project’s marketing arm, they are also leveraging their long term partnership with the Philippine Carabao Commission that provided them buffaloes in 2019.
Dati ay pinadalhan kami ng kalabaw from PCC, iyon ang ginagatasan namin ng milk, dairy products. Ang PCC kasi ay marami siya magagandang project, ‘di lang sa pagbigay ng kalabaw pati na rin ang milk feeding,” he said.
Maria said that the farm is invested to fight malnutrition and provide livelihood opportunities to local farmers. The Yamang Bukid will help in assuring the good manufacturing practices to assure the quality of milk.
“Iilan lang ang nakaaalam na may ginhawa na maaaring mabigay sa paggagatas ng kalabaw, especially sa economic ng mga magsasaka.
He said that it is better to reinforce the milk production to address the insufficiency of milk used for the feeding of malnourished children, not only in the province but across the country.
He said that the farm along with PCC and city government would like to assist and enlighten the farmers and local owners to see the potential of buffalo in dairy products instead of selling it for some P12,000 and be butchered.
“Kami sa Yamang Bukid with our technology, with our engagement sa community, we would love to help farmers na matuto. Ngayon, ang kagandahan nito, ang native natin na kalabaway kaya niya mag-produce ng 3 kilos of milk a day, mabebenta ng P100 per kilo,” he said.
“Artificial insemination ay manggagaling sa PCC, galing sa high breed na kalabaw, yong city government with city veterinarian, yong technician nila at sa amin ay tutulungan ang mga magsasaka na paramihin ang mga kalabaw. Gaya sa amin, ang kaya ibigay ay 12 kilos a day,” Maria added.
Maria said that aside from supporting the milk feeding program in the city, they could also sell products to the other towns of the province.
He assured that the milk to be produced under the project has a sure market in DepEd. He said that they are willing to send the milk to schools in different communities as also a way of helping in mobilization.
Instead of importing milk, Maria eyes that the city could also export the products in Manila and Cebu even outside the country.
Aside from working with PCC and the city government, the Dairy Production and Development Center of the regional DA-National Dairy Authority or known as Dairy Farm in Barangay Irawan, is also helping to roll out the project.
Buffaloes in the city
Santiago said there are currently over 1,420 female buffaloes documented in the city. Based on the data of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), the largest dairy producers in the country is in Cavite with 500 buffaloes.
“Medyo malapad ang area natin dito para sa pasture so kung ganoon ang sitwasyon, malaki ang potential natin. Imagine’n mo, kapag ma-eye mo ‘yong 500 na lang tapos nag-buntis na lang ‘yong kalahati sa 500, next year magkaka-250 additional ka na. Noong una kasi ay hindi siya organisado ‘yong mga asosasyon ng mga magkakalabaw kaya medyo hindi na-define ‘yong programa pagdating sa dairy production,” she said.
She said that buffaloes in the city have high potential as they are also exported outside the province as processed meat products.
“Hindi kasi nakikita ng farmer ang kanyang pakinabang, parang wala na ito kapag nanganak. Kung dalawa ang kalabaw ko, yong isang pang-araro, anohin ko pa ‘yong isa, ‘yong ganong sitwasyon, Pero kapag nakita mo na pwede pa ito mapakinabangan, magatasan,” she said.
The City Vet and Yamang Bukid had already conducted an orientation on September 17 and are still coordinating with some barangays for registered owners.
Based on the initial orientation conducted in the northern barangays, many locals have already expressed interest in raising buffalo and produce dairy.
“Mas maganda kasi habang nagsisimula ‘yong proyekto ay meron na mga ginagatasan para makita ng iba na productive nga talaga kaysa wala siyang makita sa umpisa at isipin na matagal pa ako, hindi siya ma-i-encourage na magsustine sa kaniyang proyekto. Pero kung makita nila na may kumikita na, ma-engganyo rin sila na sumali at gatasan ang kanilang kalabaw,” she said.
Yamang Bukid as partner farm
“Kapag parehong gobyerno (ang partner) matagal ang movement, ‘yong mga papel, kailangan i-produce mo muna ‘yong ganito. Samantalang kung may mamumuhunan at mag-push sa project na ‘yon, i-reimburse na lang, mas madali kumilos. Si Yamang Bukid kasi ay malaki ang requirement niya, nakita niya ngayon na ‘yong binigay sa kanya ng PCC na hayop ay nagkagatas na, nakita niya na mas kailangan na mas marami pa,” she said.
Santiago said that the technology of the farm could also help to put added values on the dairy to produce derivatives such as cheese, pastillas, pastry and others.
She said it is important to partner with someone who already sells in the market to see that the development of the product is moving.