MANILA – Senator Cynthia Villar said on Wednesday achieving self-sufficiency in milk should also be a priority in the agriculture sector because of its potential to increase farmers’ income and to address malnutrition in the countryside.
“Boosting milk production is a good start. Hindi pa natin ma-achieve ang rice self-sufficiency, sana naman ay ma-achieve natin na maging self-sufficient sa milk,” Villar said.
“We have a lot of untapped potential in the dairy industry and if we focus on this, the industry will be able to contribute more to the economy,” she added.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, was guest speaker during the National Dairy Authority’s 19th Dairy Congress and Expo in Dumaguete City recently.
“Until now, we still rely largely on imported milk. Kaya naman marami sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi makainom kasi mahal ang imported milk. Isa iyan sa mga reasons kung bakit talamak pa rin ang malnutrition, lalo na sa mga mahihirap na mga komunidad,” she said.
Villar noted that milk production is very low as it is only a mere one percent of the demand for milk.
“We should keep on looking at programs that will help improve our dismal milk production. Other industry players can follow the lead of the Philippine Carabao Center and look for foreign grants that will fund the construction of modern facilities and acquisition of relevant equipment to hasten production efficiency,” she said.
She also stressed the need for the dairy industry to “level up, especially now that regional economic cooperation under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has started last year already.”
Villar also suggested to dairy cooperatives to host milk-feeding programs in schools in their communities and aim for one cooperative for each of the 1,600 municipalities to provide livelihood to farmers and at the same time address malnutrition among our school children in the countryside.
Villar, an advocate of livelihood generation and job creation, was particularly interested in the progress of small milk producing sector composed of smallholder producers, which continue to grow significantly.
She also cited the Philippine Carabao Center for its commitment to support the growth and development of smallholder farming communities as well as farming families in the area of knowledge sharing, technical services, post-harvest support, product development, marketing, among others. It helps small scale dairy farmers by giving them an opportunity to access commercial market and increase their income.