Buenos Aires, Argentina – The program to bring in the Girolando Dairy Cattle Breed from Brazil to improve our dairy production in the Philippines has generated so much interest and inquiries that I feel obliged to give followers of this page a clearer picture of the program.
The first batch of the Girolando cattle which will be bought by the private sector, not government, will be brought to the Ubay Stock Farm in Bohol, where the Department of Agriculture will build sheds and milking parlors in a public-private-partnership program.
The private investors will own the milk and the offsprings produced but will pay government a tolling fee for the use of the facilities.
The Department of Agriculture will also have the first option to buy the calves produced by the first batch of Girolandos which will then be used in establishing smaller dairy farms of between 100 to 200 heads, first in the different towns of Bohol and then later in other parts of the country.
The government will also have the first option to acquire the semen and fertilized embryos taken from the Girolandos in the Ubay Stock Farm to be used in improving our cattle herd in other parts of the country.
The most common question I received was: “Can I have a pair of these animals for my farm?”
The answer is “No.”
Farmers, especially rural women, interested to participate in the program will have to organize themselves into groups of 50 or 100 so they could get between 100 to 200 Girolando cows.
The government’s dispersal program for individual farmers was a monumental failure with the animals ending up in the meat market or sold to neighbors.
I should know this first hand because I was Governor of North Cotabato for nine years and saw how this well-intentioned program failed.
Carabaos and cows coming from government under the dispersal program would “mysteriously” be bitten by snakes or fall into ravines during school enrollment periods or on the eve of the village fiesta.
This may sound funny but I always found an explanation for this. A poor farmer who is given full control and ownership of a cattle or carabao will always be tempted to sell it when he faces such problems as finding money for his children’s school tuition, payment for the hospital or emergency cases.
Also, an cattle expert told me that the other reason farmers sold their cow was because for every 100 cow, only 70% would get pregnant and produce a calf.
Farmers who own the 30% that did not get pregnant would really be tempted to sell their animals.
We will learn from that mistake because Albert Einstein once said “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity.”
Under the Multiplier Farm Scheme that the DA has designed, the ownership of the cattle will be by a group of farmers, especially women in the village, at a ratio of two dairy cattle per family.
For each multiplier farm, there will be between 100 to 200 dairy cattle kept under one shed where all the “owners” would come and work as a group.
In the plan that I have in my mind, the “owners” who work in their Dairy Farm would receive a daily compensation for their subsistence which would later be deducted from their share in the milk production or the sale of the calves.
The cow shed with milking parlor will be built for the farmers under a long-term loaning program while the animals will be given as a grant to the group.
Critical in this program is the marketing of the milk produced and this is where the the Agribusiness and Marketing Office of the Department of Agriculture, currently headed by Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, will play a very critical role.
The other question asked was: “Bakit Bohol lang? Paano kami sa Masbate?”
This program will be implemented in all places where Dairy Farming is ideal which means that the climate, the availability of water and forage and the willingness of the people to group and work together must be present.
But people will have to understand that, at best, there would only be between 5,000 to 10,000 heads of Girolando heifers to start with.
Besides, these imported stocks cannot just be brought to just about any other place in the country because they are coming from a country which is free of Foot and Mouth Disease but still administers vaccination.
While the OIE has promised to closely supervise this program, there is no 100% assurance that all the animals do not carry the FMD.
Confining the first batch in an isolated area would be an effective safeguard in addition to the Quarantine Protocols.
“Can private cattle farmers acquire breeding materials from the Girolando Breeding stocks?”
Yes. Young bulls produced by the farm could be acquired by the government from the private investors to be distributed to the different established cattle farms all over the country to be used in upgrading their stocks.
Fertilized embryos and semen will also be given out for free by the Department of Agriculture in an attempt to improve the cattle herd in the Philippines.
The other question is: “Kailan darating sa amin ang proyekto na yan?”
Well, if the first batch of cattle would arrive in the Philippines towards the end of 2018 because the 6-month Quarantine confinement in Brazil, the first calves would be available by 2020.
To those who are impatient, I am sorry but we are not baking hot pandesal which could be ready by dawn tomorrow.
At least now, under the administration of President Rody Duterte agricultural and fisheries programs have a clear direction and that is to make Food Available and Affordable for the people.
I assure the Filipino people of maximum transparency in this program in keeping with the commitment of President Duterte to minimize if not eradicate corruption in government.
We are not perfect but certainly we are doing our best!
(Photos of cattle farms in Brazil and Argentina taken by Mayette Tudlas.)