The business of milking

THE Department of Agriculture is urging agencies under it to patronize local milk and other products from it as part of the government’s continuous support the Philippine dairy sector.

Agriculture chief Proceso J. Alcala admits that even if there is no swift solution to the problems hounding the industry, he is optimistic that the placement of proper technologies and intervention will eventually resolve it.

Last month, DA, thru its Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund launched the “Acquisition and Upgrading of Milk Collection and Processing Faculties and Market Expansion Project” in Pitogo, Consolacion, Cebu to enhance the local dairying industry.
The project was unveiled during the Cebu Federation of Dairy Cooperatives (CEFEDCO) forum.

During the event, Alcala encouraged milk stakeholders to partner with the National Dairy Authority (NDA) and the local government to increase production of raw materials from dairy cows.

“We have to work together to increase production. I will direct DA agencies in the province to exclusively use your products,” he announced.

Developing the local dairy industry is one of the government’s strategies to help reduce poverty in the country. In line with this, the Dairy Confederation of the Philippines is firmly encouraging growers of cows, carabaos and goats to reverse focus from fattening to dairying.

“Dairying augments profit and uplifts the income and lives of farmers in the rural areas,” Alcala said.

One milk-producing animal can produce an average monthly-income of P7,000 and a well-trained farm-family can raise six dairy animals at a time earning a potential income of  P40,000 – P50,000.

According to NDA administrator Grace Cenas, cows produce milk for 300 days after they give birth while raising their calves, rest for two months, then get them impregnated again.

“The process goes on and on,” she said until the cows get too old to bear offsprings.

CEFEDCO was formed when four dairy cooperatives merged as the Liloan-Consolacion Federation of Dairy Cooperatives thru the initiative of the NDA to address the growing problem of supply deficiency in 1989. Cooperative members underwent training in Bukidnon and were given 281 pregnant dairy cattle imported from New Zealand.
Each co-op was awarded P5,000 each, making up for the P20,000 initial federation investment in addition to the P250,000 they collectively availed from the government.

In 1991, the P12-million Pitogo dairy plant started construction and was officially turned over to the federation a year later.

In 1994, more cooperatives showed interest, prompting the management to change its name to CEFEDCO signifying a bigger and broader coverage.

To this date, the federation gives livelihood to close to 300 Cebuano farm-families. Carrying the name Cebu Dairy fresh brand, CEFEDCO’s most popular products include fresh milk, milk bars, pastilles, butter, yoghurt, polvoron and white cheese.

At present, the country’s production of fresh milk is far from the demand of the local market, thus, we remain dependent on imported milk.

NDA data shows that local consumption for dairy products, fresh and processed, in 2011 was posted at 1,805 million kilograms, with local production contributing only 16.45M kg in liquid milk equivalent. The balance is covered by imports coming from New Zealand, USA, Australia and France.

There is a lot to be done but with the government’s unconstrained aid and organized groups such as the CEFEDCO, the gaps will be filled very very soon.


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