Story by Rico Locaba | Program Manager | Heifer Central Philippines
and Karla Narcise-Rodulfo | PME Manager | Heifer Philippines
Photos by Nieva Pernites | Program Officer | Heifer Central Philippines
Heifer Philippines and the National Dairy Authority collaborated to engage 2,000 smallholder farmers in 12 barangays, or villages, of Ormoc, Leyte, to develop a dairy zone and improve their families conditions. The first batch of dairy goats will be distributed at the original placement ceremony, scheduled for June 2013. Even in its early stages, the project is already showing results of Heifers values-based approach in the readiness and careful preparation of the smallholder farmers. Self-help groups (SHGs), through pintakasi, or mutual help, have already planted various kinds of forage plants, which are starting to flourish and multiply.
Women, men and youth have worked side by side to establish the 11 communal forage garden areas and, at the same time, established their own individual family forage area. The communal forage gardens are designed to also be a source of planting materials to be given to new families through Passing on the Gift®. Meetings and activities are held every month in an SHG meeting center built by the members themselves through the pintakasi way.
While values-based trainings, workshops and learning-by-doing activities were held, Rural Development Institute-Leyte, an implementing partner NGO, and Heifer engaged the local government of Ormoc, Leyte, to help in areas where they could provide support toward dairy development in the province. Also, a partnership with the Philippine Carabao Center, which owns a modern milk processing facility in the nearby municipality of Baybay, was established.
Ram Montinola, a Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW), attended the Dairy Congress and met the NDA national administrator and other officers during an exposure trip on the nearby island of Negros. My perspective about the dairy industry has been opened so wide, Montinola said.
Currently, 99 percent of the Philippines milk requirement is being imported, so there is great potential for growth in this industry. I am overwhelmed by the potential of the dairy industry, and I am sure we can do the same in our dairy project," Montinola said. "Through our project we can help increase the milk supply in the province of Leyte and, who knows, the whole country as well.