Yamang Bukid Farm will serve as model farm for carabao dairy production through the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in Palawan to open potential livelihood opportunities. (Background photo courtesy of PCC)

Yamang Bukid is keen to adopt the Philippine Carabao Center’s (PCC) “Alab Karbawan” dairy carabao-based enterprise development program in its farm tourism site.

In an interview on Saturday, Anna Reylene Montes, Carabao Based Enterprise Development (CBED) coordinator, said that as an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the full potential of carabao farming as an alternative livelihood opportunity is lucrative.

“For a government and for the whole value chain, it is our experience na we really have to model it especially here in Palawan where you only have dairy cattle in Irawan, it is operated by the regional office of Department of Agriculture, being a part of DA family, we are an attached agency of DA so Philippine Carabao Center saw the opportunity that Yamang Bukid has the interest to demonstrate dairy here in their farm tourism site,” she said.

She said the PCC needs a private partner like Yamang Bukid that will demonstrate how to explore the livelihood potential of the carabaos.

Montes said Palawan is an island province with a good carabao population and the PCC is working with the provincial government on the upgrading of the program based on the mandate of Republic Act 7307 or the Carabao Development Program.

“For a long time, we’ve been waiting and trying to start dairying as an additional income opportunity for the carabao research pero kasi yong mga farmer natin, since upgraded yong mga pinapanganak ng artificial insemination, sila yong naiiwan. Ngayon meron tayong programa na tinatawag na Alab Karbawan, it’s a focus project that intends to talagang start and intensify the production of dairy milk in particular milk production of buffalo,” she said.

The Alab Karbawan will be a province-wide dairy development, she said.

Aside from the interest expressed by Yamang Bukid as a model farm for dairy production, Montes said the provincial government has already “signified willingness and openness” through a letter to start it.

She mentioned that the City Veterinarian Office (CVO) has also said that it already spoke with the executive director of PCC regarding the adoption of the program, but a memorandum of understanding must be secured first with the city government.

She added that through the public-private partnership (PPP) of the PCC and Yamang Bukid, the chain-wide inclusive growth of the dairy carabao-based enterprise development could be seen.

“Alam natin na sa chain-wide ay we start with production na gusto naming i-highlight yong kapasidad ni farmer na hindi lang pantrabaho ang kalabaw. Malaki ang potential niya na pagkakitaan siya araw-araw. Ang isang gatasang kalabaw can empower a family, can send children to school, can provide economic development in a community with their own sipag at tiyaga,” she said.

Montes explained that there is a difference between the milk of the carabao and cow when it comes to quality.

Compared to cow’s milk, the carabao’s has a high-fat content and has the potential for cheese production.

“Yamang Bukid is interested being the pioneer here in processing yong carabao’s milk. In terms of volume, mas marami ang volume ni baka, okay lang dahil mas malabnaw ang gatas niya, in terms of nutrients, magkakampi sila. We are advocating for the beginning of kasanayan na uminom ng gatas,” she said.

She said based on RA 11037 or known as Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act, the use of carabao and cow milk produced by dairy farmers is good for children, particularly those suffering from malnutrition.

“Kami rin nandito is para sa agresibong magtulungan yong provincial government, city government, the private sectors, the NGOs if possible, the advocates, the environmentalists of Palawan, lahat ng dairy farmers na simulan na nila pagkakitaan yong alaga nilang kalabaw kasi yong hawak nila na kalabaw is a treasure, a potential income opportunity na di nila alam,” she said.

She said even if Palawan has a good carabao population, the dairy production will most likely face geographical challenge because its production station should be located near the farm for fast consolidation of the dairy milk due to its sensitivity.

Montes said that the semen used for the artificial insemination (AI) for carabao breeding came from an elite breed.

It is transported to different areas to serve as the father of upgraded carabao to have a milk-producing breed.

If the opportunity for dairy products will not be grabbed immediately, it will be a loss for malnourished children who will not be able to drink nutritious milk.

She said the Department of Education (DepEd) approved the 30-day feeding of fresh milk.

“Malaking setback, with the implementation of the national feeding program, ang nakalagay sa batas natin ay ang ipapainom natin na gatas ay bibilhin sa mga magsasaka, ito lang kasi ang totoong locally produce, hindi ito binili na powdered tulad ng imported. Kapag hindi tayo nakapagpagatas ng kalabaw dito, kukunti lang din ang produksyon ng baka, ibig sabihin hindi makakatikim ang mga malnourished children natin ng masustansyang gatas,” she said.

Meanwhile, PCC also trained two staff of Yamang Bukid Farm who are willing to be partners with the attached agency of DA in the conduct of farmer livestock school for eight-month-long learning of methodology used by agricultural training institute to learn more about dairy animal production. While two staff of the city veterinary office are also trained to be facilitators for the livestock school.