June 14, 2024

The Department of Agriculture and the National Dairy Authority (NDA) bared plans to import dairy herds to boost milk production in the Philippines.

During the celebration of World Milk Day, DA Usec. for Livestock Deogracias Victor Savellano said the industry needs “good genetics” to achieve the five percent increase in milk sufficiency, equivalent to 40 million liters in 2025.

“We are importing 99 percent [of milk], pero ang gusto sana namin ay mag-import din kami ng mga baka, kalabaw, para maparami natin,” he said.

To date, the country only produces 30,000 metric tons (MT) of milk, far behind the country’s milk demand of 3.3 million MT.

NDA officer-in-charge Administrator Gavino Alfredo Benitez said to meet the five percent target production hike, around 5,000 to 8,000 dairy herds should be imported from 2025 to 2026.

“It should come from foot-and-mouth disease-free countries. There’s only a short list. We can import from the United States, but it will cost us in shipping. The nearest would be New Zealand and Australia,” he said.

The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) also agreed to the planned importation, alongside the conversion of native herds into dairy ones through genetic improvement.

“To expedite the herd buildup, we are obliged to import. But we have to give more budget also to genetic improvement,” PCAFI President Danilo Fausto said.

Fausto, however, said these targets are only feasible with the approval of the NDA’s tier 2 budget.

“Ang total production natin ay 30,000 MT, gagawin mong 80 million (liters), paano mo gagawin iyon kung wala kang gagatasan?” he said.

The NDA and DA backed a higher budget allocation for the sector to realize not only importation but also other programs considering the negative impact of the El Niño phenomenon.

“We were granted by the Department of Budget and Management now, I think P500 million. And we’re still backing for the so-called tier 2 budget which is about P2.5 billion. That would make it about P3B for next year,” Benitez said.

Benitez, however, said they are still confident to meet their 80 million liters target production by 2028 regardless of the decision on budget allocations.

For now, the NDA looks into creating regional-level feed centers, provision of water pumps, storage, and tanks; as well as the planned implementation of a sex semen program, stock farm development, and enhancement of the environment for the part of DA. – PNA