September 01, 2020 at 11:20 pm
Senator Cynthia Villar has chided a top official of the Philippine Carabao Center for allocating P28 million budget for milk feeding program instead of usi ng it to boost milk production and for failing to implement the P450-million worth of dairy projects
In yesterday’s hearing of “State of the Dairy Industry” conducted by the Senate Agriculture committee which she chairs, Villar repeatedly reminded Dr. Arnel Del Barrio, PCC Executive Director, that milk feeding program is not within their mandate. She insisted that it is the job of the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
At the start of the hearing, Del Rosario told the Senate panel that PCC has allocated P28 million from its budget as it partnered with DSWD for a milk feeding program. The initial program will be held in Region 3.
Upon hearing this, Villar asked Del Barrio— “show me where will you bring the budget, you are not supposed to feed children. They will buy from you, that’s the job of DepEd and DSWD.
Villar insisted that the PCC’s job is to produce many carabaos and build many processing centers where the DepEd and DSWD can buy their milk.
With the processing centers, Villar noted that this would encourage more dairy farmers to embark on the industry as they would have a ready market for their produce.
Villar also asked del Barrio why the P450-million worth of projects that will build dairy processing centers to 28 locations and provide intercropping opportunities to coconut farmers in different parts of the country was not implemented.
She has allocated P10 million each to 28 locations or a total of P280 million for the project aside from the budget of PCC. She had also asked the Philippine Coconut Authority to allocate P170 million for 17 coconut producing provinces to make a total of P450 million.
The senator also chided Del Barrio for failing to build processing centers when she had already given her “entitlements” for the project.
“You told me a processing center would cost P10 million so I gave you, but you didn’t establish a building. Where did you bring the money? Please answer, I don’t know what explanation you will give,” said Villar who also berated Del Rosario for breaking her dreams for the country’s dairy farmers.
Villar also cited researches which she said should be applied to increase milk production. She said PCC can do researches on this as she specifically mentioned Israel where a carabao produces 40 liters of milk a day, way above the Filipino native carabao which makes only 3 liters daily and a better carabao producing 7 liters per day.
The total milk production in 2018 is 23,690,000 liters while the demand is 2.345 billion liters, showing that local production is only at 0.6966%, even less than 1% of the total demand of milk by Filipinos.
She also cited a Commission on Audit (COA) Report released in January 2020, saying that the dairy program that cost P2.85 billion to implement appears to have achieved only “minimal improvement” in increasing the number of dairy animals In the Philippines.
The Herd Build-Up Program ran for 6 years, from 2012 to 2018. It started with 39,069 dairy animals but ended up with only 47,600 animals at the most recent count in 2018 and included cattle and carabaos. The program aimed to increase the local supply contribution for milk to 10% from a 2012 local supply figure of 1%.
COA attributed the failure to the lack of coordination among key agencies, the lack of well-defined roles and responsibilities for the dairy Industry’s stakeholders, operational issues, and significant cattle and buffalo mortality rates which led to the non-attainment of Dairy Road Map targets.
Villar authored Proposed Senate Resolution No. 504 directing an inquiry on the state of the dairy industry as implemented by the National Dairy Authority and the PCC under the Department of Agriculture.
“The NDA and the PCC have been in existence for 25 years and 28 years, respectively, and we continue to import more than 99 percent of our demand for dairy. This means we have been missing the opportunity to make our kababayan, especially the farmers, benefit from the dairy industry as a source of additional income and for our children to have access to affordable milk,” Villar said.