THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has been dispersing dairy cattle to local farmers. That is the good news.
The activity has intensified since January of this year until this week with the expected dispersal of 10 heads of dairy cattle to a farmer's association from Pudtol, Apayao Province.
I believe the DA will sustain the effort for as long as there are dairy cattle to give away and there are farmers who are interested to grow the animals, until a thriving dairy industry is established in the Cordillera.
Actually, the agency has been promoting dairying in the region through loans, since thirty years ago. It is only now, under the leadership of Secretary Emmanuel Piñol that the very expensive dairy cows are being dispersed to interested and trained farmers.
Raffy Panagan, DA consultant for Northern Luzon, said that the promotion and intensified dispersal of the dairy cattle is part of the DA's National Dairy Program.
The program was initiated by Secretary Piñol to help address the malnutrition problem in the country and at the same time provide a livelihood to farmers to farmers, he said.
Aside from the dispersal of dairy cows to farmers, Secretary Piñol tasked the National Dairy Authority (NDA) to coordinate the procurement and transfer of 100 heads of Holstein-Friesian cattle to the DA-CAR as part of the development of the Baguio Dairy Farm (BDF) into a state-of-the-art training and research facility for cattle dairying in Northern Luzon.
According to Mr. Panagan, the Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle are expected to arrive in September, this year.
Mr. Panagan, who also manages the Human Settlements Development Corporation (HSDC) said that an amount of PHP 150 million from his agency will be used to construct the buildings and facilities needed to run a functional dairy research and training center at the BDF.
Aside from the BDF the DA will also develop state-of-the-art dairy facilities in Southern Luzon (Batangas), Visayas (Bohol), and Mindanao (Bukidnon)," according to Panagan.
The DA-CAR is expected to prepare for the bidding and other technical support necessary to push the project in Baguio City this week, Panagan said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ruben Dulagan, OIC-Chief of the DA-CAR Regulatory and Livestock Division reported a total of 20 heads of dairy cattle successfully turned-over to the Tuel Farmers Association and Daclan Farmers Association of Tublay, Benguet, last week.
Each of the association will receive 10 heads of dairy cattle.
The dispersed cattle are bred from Holstein and Sahiwal.
Earlier, another 12 heads of dairy cattle were turned over to the members and officers of the Sagpat Farmers Association of Kibungan, Benguet.
Earlier this year, five heirloom rice growers from Barlig, Mountain Province were given pregnant dairy cattle as assistance to their livelihood.
In Bontoc, Mr. Fonet Dirije, a dairy goat farmer was a recipient of two dairy cattle from the DA and another two from NDA.
Aside from the farmer-beneficiaries, there are at least two local government units (LGUs) in Mountain Province who are engaged in dairy farming. These are the Bauko and Bontoc LGUs.
The LGU of Bauko was given five heads of dairy cattle, while Bontoc availed of two dairy cattle from DA-CAR.
Researchers have discovered that milk from dairy cattle is a complete food. The Cordillera, with its favorable weather, has long been eyed for dairying in the country. With more farmers trained on dairying, the Cordillera can now contribute its share in keeping the nation's citizens healthy.