DA to overhaul dairy program
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is moving toward overhauling its dairy program to ensure sufficient production after it got a scolding from Sen. Cynthia Villar.

Villar blamed the country’s dairy program on children’s lack of access to affordable milk, which she said leads to malnutrition and stupidity.

In a statement yesterday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the DA recognizes the real situation of the local dairy industry, particularly the measly supply of locally produced milk.

“We will overhaul the programs and respective targets of the National Dairy Authority and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and 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,” Dar said.

Villar blasted the PCC for allegedly allocating more budget for the acquisition of vehicles rather than improving dairy production.

In response, Dar said the PCC and NDA would massively improve the genetics of dairy buffaloes and cattle to produce seven liters and 18 liters, respectively.

DA also plans to expand its current herd of 7,573 head of purebred dairy buffaloes and 14,354 tropicalized dairy cattle.

“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,” Dar said.

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

Last year, the country’s dairy sector produced 23,690 metric tons of milk, up  5.4 percent.

Despite this, the Philippines still hiked its imports of dairy products by 21 percent last year amid increasing consumption coupled with favorable global prices.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported earlier that the country imported some 3.5 million MT liquid milk equivalent.

Skim milk powder and whole milk powder imports comprised about 57 percent of total dairy imports.

USDA said liquid milk imports should continue to increase this year due to rising consumption and increased use in food service, particularly in coffee shops.

The Philippines produces less than one percent of its total annual dairy requirement and imports the balance.

The average Philippine milk production per animal at eight liters per day remains low mainly because of poor feed and management practices, compounded with high production costs and a lack of adequate dairy infrastructure.

Dairy products are currently the country’s third largest agricultural import after wheat and soybean meal. Major suppliers are New Zealand at 39 percent, US at 21 percent and Australia at seven percent.

CYNTHIA VILLAR DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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