DIFFERENT stakeholders marked the beginning of the construction of the Dairy Box in the Province of Guimaras.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the capitol grounds last July 8, 2022.

The P10-million infrastructure project is a one-stop-shop for carabao-based products conceptualized by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).

The office of Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture, provided the budget for the construction of the facility.

The operations of the Dairy Box will be managed by the Guimaras Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative (GEMPC).

Philippine Carabao Center Director Arn D. Granada said the amount allotted for the 8x10 square meters facility is P2 million, while the remaining P8 million is intended for the purchase of the equipment for the operation of the Dairy Box.

This will be the fourth Dairy Box outlet in Western Visayas, according to Granada, with the first two outlets built in Antique and another one in the town of Barotac Viejo in the Province of Iloilo.

He said the project aims to strengthen the country's production of dairy products and not to rely mainly on imports.

Granada shared that the Philippine dairy sector is only producing 26 million liters of milk a year which is 0.8 percent only of the local demand.

He added that the sustainability of the Dairy Box will depend on the cooperation of the stakeholders.

“I understood the content of the usufruct, it's free of tax. So, the usufructuary which is the Philippine Carabao Center, and the operation of the processing and store outlet is within the responsibility of the cooperative. So, we need to help one another to make it sustainable. So, today this Dairy Box will not just be simply as a word but it should be a functional enterprise as expected and I believe that we can join hands then help one another, then suggest other possible ideas to make it sustainable because sustainability depends on how we cooperate," Granada said.

Senator Villar, on her video message, emphasized the importance of the facility for the improvement of the country's dairy production.

"Mahalaga ang mga ganitong mga gawain para mapalaganap ang pagpagatas sa ating bansa dahil sa ating malaking kakulangan ng gatas sa bansa. Kailangan natin mapaganda ang ating dairy production," she said.

Mercy Diaz, chairperson of the Board of Directors of GEMPC, assured that the GEMPC will do its best to make the project successful because this will be of great help to the community.

"Ari kami di. With the talent and the skill and the ability and the knowledge of the GEMPC officers, we support, we really support. Starting today i-instill na namon sa amon nga mind nga this project is really of great help to our community and rest assured also nga mangin successful ini nga project for the Province of Guimaras," Diaz said.

The Philippine Carabao Center has already given 40 carabaos to the Province of Guimaras to jumpstart the project.

The Dairy Box is an infrastructure support for smallhold dairy buffalo farmers designed to provide them opportunities such as access to the commercial market thus increasing their incomes. (PR)