Story and Photos by Nieva Pernites-Sambas | Program Officer | Heifer Central Philippines
Heifer Philippines held an on-the-job training (OJT) for dairy goat production and management August 9-16, 2013, at St. Elmo's Farm. Project participants learned practical lessons in planning and establishing a dairy goat enterprise, which included feeding and caring for dairy goats, preventing and treating illnesses, and operating milking machines. The training also focused on dairy goat breeding and selection, fertility management, raising kids, milk production and waste management.
Each area of production is crucial in the implementation of the Developing Dairy Zones towards Local Economy Development for Smallholder Farmers in Ormoc, Leyte Project—a partnership of Heifer Philippines, the Rural Development Institute (RDI-Leyte) and the National Dairy Authority (NDA).
Four Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs), one community facilitator from RDI-Leyte, and Heifer Central Philippines Program Officer Nieva Sambas participated in the training.
Elmer Rivera, OJT mentor, has owned and managed St. Elmo's Farm for eight years. He has 125 heads of goats, 30 of which are dairy goats. A complete value chain cycle, from production and processing to marketing, is present on his farm. Rivera produces fresh, pasteurized and flavored milk and cheese.
He shared his experience and challenges with project participants. "It is important to continue to explore and discover new things and simple techniques in farming. Learn from your experience, discover what works for you, and try to improve along the way. Raising dairy goats requires passion, dedication and perseverance. It is difficult, but with hard work you will be rewarded."
Heifer Philippines Country Director Hercules Paradiang encouraged participants during the week-long training. He emphasized that CAHWs are representatives of the 400 families Heifer is assisting. And he challenged them to apply what they learned and influence other families to do the same.
The CAHWs also made a re-entry plan to apply on their own farm and in their communities' self-help groups. "The hands-on training was simple yet very effective and practical in raising dairy goats. Consistency and quality of milk products that will be produced is more important than recognition," said CAHW Ramelo Montinola.
Participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity provided by Heifer Philippines and promised to pass on the knowledge and gift of service to the families in their communities.