From fertilizer to fresh milk Universal Harvester pumps life into Philippines dairy industry
Christina Mendez, Conrado Diaz Jr. (The Philippine Star) - January 2, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – For multi-awarded agri entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Milagros Ong-How, her long-time advocacy to help farmers uplift their standard of living led to the pursuit of more income- and job-generating ventures outside of her flagship fertilizer business.

Through Universal Harvester Inc. (UHI), the company she founded in 2003 that eventually flourished to become the biggest of its kind in the country, How heeded government’s appeal to invigorate the local dairy industry with the establishment of a nearly 500-hectare cattle farm in Brgy. San Miguel, Maramag, Bukidnon.

“We want to do our share in helping the industry increase the country’s capability to supply its own dairy requirement. We want dairy farmers to improve their income-earning capability and open up various opportunities to the people here in Bukidnon,” she said.

How said the project has its share of birth pains – from water supply, logistics, even supposed demand letters from the leftist New People’s Army that turned out to be fake. But taking on challenges is nothing new for How, who as an agronomy student in UPLB in the early 1970s started dipping into the chemical business to help her widowed mother raise seven children.

UHI, the same company spearheading the TOFARM Awards, a yearly search undertaken with JCI Philippines to promote best practices in agriculture, applied modern technology with local and international experts acting as consultants and partners in putting up and sustaining the dairy farm, likewise using best practices in dairy farming from local and foreign models.

The UHI farm is being envisioned to become both a milk-producing and large-scale milk processing plant. Around 500 artificially inseminated Holstein cows were imported from New Zealand to begin the dairy production, with calves already born on site since October last year.

How said farmer cooperatives and associations are the target beneficiaries of the business, allowing them to work in the farm and subsequently market their produce for a neat profit.

Besides the production of fresh milk, plans to develop by-products such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream and others are in the pipeline to realize the full potential of the dairy farm.

How laments that the supply of locally sourced fresh milk, which has the more abundant share of B-complex vitamins needed for optimum health, stands at barely three percent and is not enough to meet the huge demand for fresh milk in the country.

The National Dairy Authority (NDA), the lead agency of the Department of Agriculture in the development of the dairy industry, cited growth in this sector from 14.41 million liters in 2009 to 37.02 million liters by end-2014.

But demand remains high, and dairy farming requires more resources to begin and sustain compared to other agricultural ventures.

While there is no dearth of milk supply in the market, most of it is powdered, reconstituted and 97 percent imported.

Government has long encouraged Filipino farmers to go into dairy production but as one of the more expensive and large-scale operations that not many can go into, the huge potential of the local dairy industry remains largely untapped.

Given the mission and vision How has laid out for the UHI dairy farm project, the Philippines may soon be self-sufficient in milk production.

 

 

 

                                                                                             

BUKIDNON DAIRY DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DR. MILAGROS ONG-HOW MILK NATIONAL DAIRY AUTHORITY NBSP NEW PEOPLE NEW ZEALAND SAN MIGUEL THROUGH UNIVERSAL HARVESTER INC
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