Villar urges DA to improve ‘dismal milk production’ in PH
Senator Cynthia Villar is urging the Department of Agriculture (DA) to improve the “dismal milk production” in the Philippines after learning that 99 percent of the country’s dairy needs are being imported from other countries.
Villar pressed this issue during the recent hearing of the Senate finance subcommittee, which she heads, on the proposed P90 billion budget of the DA in 2016.
“I discovered that we only produce 1% of our demand for milk. That’s very low. We are now looking at programs that will help improve our dismal milk production,” she said in a statement on Friday.
“I am saddened by the fact that we are depending on imported milk for our needs. Kahit importante ang gatas, marami ang hindi makainom kasi mahal ang imported milk (Although milk is important, many people cannot drink it because imported milk is expensive). This is why malnutrition persists among the poor,” said the senator.
Villar, who also chairs of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said 99 percent of the country’s dairy needs are being imported from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
She then urged the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and the National Dairy Authority (NDA) to be at the forefront of this endeavor as she and Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the committee on finance, promised to support a budget that will fund programs aimed at producing more dairy products.
“I suggested to dairy cooperatives to host milk-feeding programs in schools in their communities,” Villar said.
“If we can aim for one cooperative for each of the 1,600 municipalities, we can provide livelihood to farmers and at the same time address malnutrition among our school children in the countryside,” she further said.
The senator said the NDA has a proposed budget of P170 million in 2016, which will be used to build a foundation stock of dairy animals, among others.
Grace Cenas, NDA administrator, said they have to raise the number of milking animals from the current 45,000 to 500,000 to be able to achieve self-sufficiency in milk.
Villar also urged the NDA to follow the lead of the PCC and look for foreign grants that will fund the construction of modern facilities and acquisition of relevant equipment. Maila Ager/RAM
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