Investments in Philippine Farmers to Produce Milk Locally

By Henrylito D. Tacio

Davao City, 5 March 2010. With more than 90 million Filipinos living in the Philippines today, each person gets only about three drops of milk per day.  That’s according to Raylin Sanchez of the Federation of Davao Dairy Farmers Cooperative (FDDFC) based in Malagos, Davao City.

“It’s sad but that the situation right now,” she pointed out.  “But we are doing our best to change the condition.”

The Philippine dairy industry - although considered a vital component of the country’s economic and nutritional development – remains undeveloped.  Presently, the country imports 98 percent of its milk and other dairy products requirements. 

“We pay foreign dairy farmers millions of dollars each year,” deplored the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).  “During the period 2002-2007, the Philippines spent an average of over US$460 million to cover the cost for an average volume of 1.8 billion liters of milk imports annually.  Powdered milk accounts for some 86 percent of the imports.”

Nestlé Philippines, Alaska Milk Corporation, and New Zealand Creamery are the top three importers of milk in the country, according to the National Dairy Authority (NDA), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

While the production of local dairy farmers has been steadily increasing, the average annual local production is only about 12,000 metric tons or some 12 million liters.  On the other hand, the national requirement based on actual consumption during the period 2002-2007 was 1,550 metric tons or about 1.55 billion liters. 

“If we are to compute the national milk requirement based on the recommended dietary allowance of 19 kilograms per year, we would need an average supply of about 2,500 thousand metric tons of 2.5 billion liters each year,” the PCC claimed.

According to the NDA, the Philippines has not achieved self-sufficiency in milk because there is not enough investments in dairy and there are not enough animals on the ground to support the huge demand.

The Davao-based FDDFC, which is assisted by NDA, is very much aware of this when it was launched in 1990.  With only four cooperatives as members initially, the members surged to 30 cooperatives today.  From producing only 700 liters of fresh milk a day, it now produces 1,300-1,500 liters each day.

The dairy federation is responsible for producing the Davao Dairy Best fresh and flavored milk.  It delivers milk to supermarkets not only in Davao City but also in General Santos City, Agusan del Sur, North Cotabato and South Cotabato.

The main objective of FDDFC is “to be the dairy capital of the Philippines, providing better nutrition to Filipinos and livelihood to the dairy farmers.” 

The dairy federation provides loan to interested farmers by providing them three dairy cows.  Most of the cattle are heifers and imported from New Zealand.   Payment is five years in the form of milk or cash.  The FDDFC believes that increasing the dairy herd in southern Mindanao could greatly contribute to the increase in milk production in the region.

The loaned-out cattle are crossbred between Holstein-Friesen and Sahiwal.  The temperate Holstein-Friesian has an average daily milk production of 22 kilograms with an average butterfat content of 3.6 percent.

Sahiwal, a tropical breed that is more adapted Philippine conditions, has an average daily milk production of eight kilograms with a butterfat content of 4.9 percent.

The cows produce about 8 liters of milk per day (one liter is equivalent to one cup), of which one-and-a-half is deducted as payment to the dairy federation.  “We buy milk from our members at P20 per liter,” informed Sanchez. “We process the milk and sell them at P45 for fresh milk and P50 for flavored ones.”

Currently, there are 200 farmers who are members in Davao City alone.  The productive life span of each cattle is ten years.  “Our dairy federation is the one and only in Southern Mindanao,” Sanchez says.

The dairy federation got help from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).  For one, the staff underwent training on milk processing and pasteurization.  The government agency provided designed for the retort machine used in milk processing.  “As a result of the design, we were able to spend only P2 million instead of the usual cost of P20 million,” points out Sanchez.

Maintenance of the retort machine, which is done every year, is also provided by the DOST.  “We spend about P40,000,” Sanchez says.  “That includes for the airfare of the person since he comes from Manila.”