By Emme Rose S. Santiagudo
ILOILO CITY — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking to develop the dairy industry in Iloilo province, using milk from the native carabao.
Dr. Eric P. Palacpac, head of the Knowledge Management Division of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), said Iloilo is ideal because of its carabao population.
“What’s good in Iloilo is that you are one island with many neighboring provinces. Iloilo has actually one of the densest populations of carabaos. It’s a matter of just upgrading the carabaos,” Mr. Palacpac said during a dairy production training event in December.
He said there are about 200,000 carabaos in Iloilo out of the total 2.8 million nationwide.
PCC Regional Center Director Arn D. Granda said the center been encouraging farmers not to sell their carabaos, particularly the females, for meat supply and instead tap them for dairy production.
“Farmers can earn extra income from the female carabaos,” Mr. Granda said during the graduation exercises of Karbawan: School on the Air on Dairy Buffalo Production in Leon, Iloilo on last Dec. 20.
Mr. Granada noted that demand in the Western Visayas cannot currently be met by supply.
“We have the market but we cannot produce the volume. We have water, we have time, we have grass so we need to divert our unproductive human resources to productive village economic activity,” he said.
A native carabao can produce one liter (L) of milk per day, while a crossbred buffalo up to five per day, and a purebred as much as eight.
Mr. Granada also said that value-added products can be made from milk such as ice cream, cheese, and pastillas; a local delicacy.
The PCC is also rolling out infrastructure support for carabao milk producers.
Mr. Granada said the PCC is finalizing an agreement with the Leon government and the Leon Farmer’s Dairy Association for the expansion of a center for trading, processing, and retail sales.
“Once finished, a pasalubong center with processing area will rise in the auction center of Leon and it will be operated by farmers and backed up by PCC and the local government unit,” Mr. Granada said.