June 21, 2024

The Department of Education assured the local dairy industry that locally-produced milk remains its priority for its School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP).
This is DepEd’s response to the letter from the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) and Dairy Confederation of the Philippines, the contents of which were reported by some media outlets.
While DepEd is now addressing the concerns raised by the PCAFI, this statement is issued to correct some of the claims inaccurately made in the media reports.
DepEd denied the allegation that it asked the National Dairy Authority (NDA) and Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) “to sign a certification that local dairy farmers cannot supply the milk to allow the entry of foreign multinational dairy companies dislodging the local dairy farmers for the General Appropriations Act budget 2022,” as indicated in one media report.
This statement seems to make it appear that DepEd was influencing the NDA and the PCC to sign the said certification and that the intention of the certification was to “dislodge local dairy farmers from the GAA budget 2022.
On the contrary, requiring such certification is in fact a mechanism that has been institutionalized by DepEd to ensure that its field offices will prioritize locally produced milk and procure commercial milk only when local milk is not readily available.
DepEd assured its implementation of the SBFP espouses the sourcing of milk from the local dairy farmers, consistent with Republic Act 11037 or the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.
DepEd Usec. for Administration Alain del Pascua reported for the last two years, 80 percent of fresh milk and other milk-based products are sourced from the local cooperatives and enterprises and only 20 percent commercial milk are sourced in areas where the partners of the NDA and the PCC cannot supply the milk requirement.
PCAFI in its letter also said DepEd’s decision to implement the milk feeding component of the SBFP from April to July 2022 “will diminish and minimize the participation of local dairy farmers under the program” and “effectively exclude and eliminate the local dairy farmers and milk processing plants from participating of DepEd’s Milk Feeding Program in favor of the big multinational processors.”
It was reiterated the local farmers’ participation in the SBFP has been through DepEd’s MOA with the NDA and the PCC.
Together with the agencies, DepEd regularly conducts milk supply mapping workshops to determine how much milk local farmers can provide for the program through these agencies.
It is only after the NDA and the PCC have made their commitments that the share for commercial suppliers can be determined.
PCAFI said local farmers are currently producing and delivering milk for the SBFP through funds allocated from 2021 and that they have consistently done the same for funds allocated in 2019 and 2020.
DepEd, however, cannot particularly adjust its feeding calendar, as requested by PCAFI, solely depending on when the farmers can produce milk for its learners.
PCAFI is practically requesting DepEd to delay the use of its 2022 funds for the milk component of the SBFP beyond June of this year because it is only then that local farmers will be able to supply the program’s requirement.
The current school year ends in June, and the next school year is set to start around two months after.
If the milk feeding does not commence in April, the effectiveness of the SBFP will be affected as its components will be split into different sets of beneficiaries in different feeding periods with two months break in between.
 As stated in PCAFI’s letter, one of the reasons that some farmers are not able to supply milk for the April to June feeding is that the feeding, using 2021 funds, is ongoing and the milk is still being produced and delivered by them. – Press release