by AG Padilla

With its foremost goal to sustain local dairy farmers’ income among milk processors and small backyard milk producers of Western Visayas amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) of West Visayas State University (WVSU)- Calinog started the community support milk-based feeding in various areas of Iloilo and Antique on March 18, 2020.

This activity was initiated by PCC-WVSU in cooperation with the dairy farmers of Calinog Agri Farmers Coop and LECOFADA Dairy Association in Leon. Initially, there were around Php 167,000 worth of fresh milk tantamount to 1,670 liters of locally-produced dairy fresh milk given out to frontliners in checkpoint areas and households in Calinog, Lambunao, and Janiuay.

Frontliners in major checkpoints in Antique particularly in Anini-y and community surrounding the Nitrogen Plant in Pangpang, Sibalom were also among the recipients.

The PCC-WVSU is continuing to serve cost-sharing of milk under Food Pack Scheme targeting the towns of Alimodian, Leon and Igbaras.

PCC-WVSU Director, Arn Granada, said that this initiative aims to create public awareness that carabao utility is beyond a mere farm working animal but could be a source of milk which contains rich nutrients needed by the human immune system in fighting CoVid 2019.

“It is also an avenue to inform the market that milk is a complete food across ages and is locally available here in Panay Island,” he added.

Also, PCC-WVSU continues the Artificial Insemination (AI) services on Natural Heat carabaos to ensure stable food production and promote dairy enterprise amidst the pandemic.

“I am encouraging areas in Panay who have AI technicians to continue the AI services. This must be carried out continuously to impregnate farmers’ female carabaos and even cows. The more AI breeding we extend, we can increase future births of crossbreed calves such as mestizo/mestiza fast growing breed as source of animal meat, carabeef or beef and more potential female animals can be used by village farmers as milking animals to produce milk as means of livelihood,” said Granada.

He further highlighted the importance of maintaining the dairy milk production as a source of income among the farmers.

“This will create continuous small pockets of village- based livelihood and reduce direct milk import from other countries. Our farmers can earn income while creating locally-available milk as source of nutritious Filipino food. Their produce can be used in bread-making, ice cream-making, fresh milk, flavored drink, cheese, yogurt, pastillas and shakes or can be mixed to coffee or tea drinks,” he said. The local government units could contact the following numbers if they need fresh milk as part of their food packs distribution: 09279822909, 09483535126, and 09776942025 .