Story and photo by Karla Narcise-Rodulfo | PME Manager | Heifer Philippines
The start of Fiscal Year 2013 has been very promising for Heifer International Philippines as they partner with the National Dairy Authority (NDA) for a project that will facilitate the participation of small farmers in the dairy industry. The Developing Dairy Zones for Smallholder Farmers in the Philippines project has been approved and signed by Heifer International and will be managed by the NDA (an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture) and Heifer Philippines.
The Philippines, with its population of more than 90 million and growing annually at 2.7 percent, is a large market for milk and other dairy products. The average milk consumption per person per year is 20.37 liters, but 99 percent of its total dairy need is imported. Of the total liquid milk supply, local production is only 24 percent while 76 percent is imported. Smallholder farmers can take advantage of this potential and uplift the economic and nutrition status of rural families. The project will encourage and support them to integrate dairy farming with basic food staple crop production, as it has the potential to pull them out of poverty and food insecurity.
The project will support the establishment of four dairy zones to help facilitate the participation of small farmers in the dairy industry in three regions where Heifer Philippines is active. This model will enable the concentration of dairy herds, dairy farming expertise and milk processing facilities, as well as marketing infrastructures, creating some form of economies of scale and market access. Participating farmers will train and put into practice Heifers values-based model for community development to foster cooperation, build social capital and create awareness on gender equity, nutrition and concern for the environment. They will also receive trainings on dairy husbandry, forage and silage production, and milk collection and processing.
The project, which began July 24, 2012, and will end June 2017, will benefit 3,600 smallholder farmers and will be implemented by four local partner NGOs of Heifer Philippines. To jumpstart the partnership, Heifer Philippines hosted a meeting on August 16 with NDA Administrator Grace J. Cenas and NDA key staff. Attendees discussed the roles and responsibilities of Heifer Philippines and the NDA, key activities and timelines, project management and structure, and details regarding the Letter of Agreement between Heifer Philippines and the NDA as a supplement to the Memorandum of Agreement earlier executed by both organizations. Finally, the organizations discussed the crucial next steps to be taken as they work hand in hand to help uplift the lives of Filipinos, one community at a time.