Philippine dairy trade seeks help to reduce imports | Inquirer News

Philippine dairy trade seeks help to reduce imports

/ 01:22 AM May 18, 2012

BAGUIO CITY—The country’s dairy industry needs a law banning the use of the label “fresh” on imported milk products packaged using processed ingredients.

Danilo Fausto, chairman of Dairy Confederation of the Philippines (Dairycon), said these proposed measures, which have been sponsored in Congress, would provide local milk producers some advantage as they pursue market reforms aimed at improving the industry.

Fausto opened this year’s 15th Philippine Dairy Congress by reporting that dairy farming in the Philippines is sluggish.


He said last year’s production versus demand “hovers below 1 percent of total demand for milk products.”


Heavy imports

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Davinio Catbagan said Filipinos consumed P90-billion worth of dairy products in 2011, but only one of every four glasses of milk consumed last year was locally produced.

Philip Shull, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) agriculture counselor of the United States Department of Agriculture, also said the price of Philippine milk products “is high by international standards.”

“How can a Filipino household afford to pay P65 for a liter of fresh milk?” Shull said.

Fausto said Dairycon has drawn up programs and marketing initiatives to raise the production of ready-to-drink milk products from the current 19 percent to 43 percent by 2016.

The proposed laws are part of plans to strengthen the industry. Fausto said the measures are meant to protect “not only consumers of milk but also the local producers of fresh milk.”


No local benefits

“We have been subsidizing foreign farmers to produce milk for us. The amount we are spending on imports should be earned by our farmers … as we cut our dependence on foreign milk and milk products,” he said.

But problems still plague the trade, dairy experts said, highlighted by poor animal management by untrained farmers resulting in undernourished dairy animals.

Of 10 million farm animals recorded in a national registry, only 37,800 are dairy animals, Catbagan said.

Shull said the bigger challenge facing Philippine agriculture is that “organic knowledge of agriculture is diminishing.”


He said generations of Filipinos have started to move to urban areas, losing touch with their farm roots.

Shull said 2006 was a significant year because 50 percent of the world population migrated from farms and the provinces to cities.

This fact and the growth of world population to 7 billion in 2011 provide the Philippine dairy industry some insights on opportunities and problems it needs to confront.

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“Yes, more people mean you can sell more milk products,” Shull said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

TAGS: Agriculture, Congress, Dairycon, Laws, Legislation, Milk Products

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