TO meet the goal of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) to supply 100 percent of the government’s milk feeding program, it will put up milk retort facilities in Bohol and Zamboanga del Sur.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Deogracias Victor B. Savellano said that the establishment of the facilities also aims to improve the revenue of the dairy farmers, which so far has reached P2 billion.
Savellano disclosed that the DA will work to close the 13% gap in the milk supply for the program.
“We need to overcome the lingering 13% dependency on commercially-outsourced milk,” said Savellano.
Joel C. Cabading, PCC milk feeding program coordinator, disclosed that a modern retort facility costs P35 million, which will be funded under the United States government’s Public Law 480 (Agricultural Trade Development & Assistance and Act).
In a recent discussion on “Moving Towards Nutrition Security” in Davos, Switzerland, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., also the concurrent DA secretary, said the government spending will focus on agriculture-related sectors like investing in food, which aims to feed children belonging to the most impoverished population.
Cabading added that the establishment of the retort facilities will ensure nutrition and food safety for Filipino children and it will raise livelihood opportunities for dairy farmers in Visayas and Mindanao.
The PCC, a DA-attached agency, will also establish milk laboratories within 12 regional centers to make milk testing centers for food safety more accessible to dairy farmers in the outskirts.
Meanwhile, Dr. Caro Salces, PCC officer-in-charge executive director, said that traditional logistical methods in milk delivery have caused delays and supply shortages in schools in the countryside.
“With the establishment of these retort facilities, the PCC’s delivery capabilities will be further boosted,” Salces said.
The retort technology will extend the shelf life of milk while retaining milk’s nutrition content since it sterilizes and preserves the milk through heat processing and airtight packaging.
Since 2019, the government’s milk-feeding program has so far nourished 4.2 million children. It has boosted the income of 53 PCC-assisted cooperatives that have generated a combined revenue of P2 billion.
The PCC has retort facilities in Isabela, Science City of Munoz, Batangas and Sorsogon.
The milk feeding program is governed by Republic Act 11037 or the “Masunstansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.”
For 2024, the PCC’s assisted dairy cooperatives will provide 50% percent of the milk supply for the 2024 program while the National Dairy Authority (NDA) will supply the other 50%.