Noting that dairy production in the Philippines is only at 1% of the demand and that 99% of milk is imported, Senator Cynthia Villar renewed her call to accelerate milk production in the country as she joined the World Milk Day celebration.
She also urged the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Dairy Authority (NDA) and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) to boost the country’s dairy industry through policy direction and program implementation.
Since June 1, 2000, the United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been celebrating World Milk Day to highlight the importance of milk products as a global food.
But for this year, no major global events have been set due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the website of World Milk Day urged event organisers around the world to shift to social media campaigns and programs.
According to Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, “once we increase our dairy production, we can already make milk affordable and accessible to our children.”
However, with the country’s dependence on imported milk, she said: “It’s no wonder many Filipino children were being deprived of drinking milk, an excellent source of many nutrients.
“Poor families cannot afford to give their children milk that will greatly help in their proper nutrition and academic performance in school,” said Villar, adding that “foreign dairy is too expensive for the masses.”
A developed dairy industry will provide livelihood opportunities to earn more for farmers in farming communities, she said.
“And if we are to source our fresh milk and fresh milk-based products from local dairy farmers and cooperatives, we are creating markets, which, if sustained, will eventually develop our local dairy industry,” stressed Villar.
With the current situation, the senator lamented “we have been missing the opportunity to make our kababayan, especially the farmers, benefit from the dairy industry as a source of additional income.”
During previous hearings in the Senate, Villar railed against the PCC and the NDA, which she said were partly at fault that school children do not perform well and called on them to help boost the country’s milk production.
Villar also chided the PCC for failing to significantly increase milk production despite a nearly P3-billion program.
Aside from the budget of the PCC, Villar has allocated P10 million each to 28 locations or a total of P280 million to build dairy processing centers in different parts of the country.