The Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 sees livestock or meat production as a “sunshine industry” in the field of agriculture in the region.
This, as the government is trying to be ready to challenges posed by free trade agreement among the Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines.
For Joel Elumba, DA 7 regional technical director, the free trade could present an opportunity for the country’s livestock industry.
He said that while the region is lagging behind in the corn production at only 800 metric tons per hectare, it showed some positive signs in terms of meat production.
In 2013, he said, Central Visayas produced two million metric tons of meat coming from the artificial insemination (AI)-produced farm animals alone.
In the same year, Central Visayas has accounted for around 28 percent of the total population of AI calves in the entire country, according to Rudito Mumar, regional AI coordinator of DA 7.
“We have to look into the opportunities and the initiatives that are doable for us,” he said during the first Visayas Artificial Insemination (AI) Congress last December 29 to 30 at Dohera Hotel, Mandaue City.
In terms of dairy production, Dr. Caro Salces, director of the Philippine Caraboa Center (PCC) Ubay Stock Farm, said the industry is not also strong in the other ASEAN members.
“We have an edge in the production of carabao milk because the Philippines is the only country in the region that is producing it,” he explained.
However, in terms of self-sufficiency, the country is still importing 98 percent of its total milk products in the market.
PCC, along with the National Artificial Insemination Breeding Center and National Dairy Authority, provides semen and AI technicians’ training to the local government units (LGUs) for free. The Capitol, which prioritizes food security and agriculture, operated a Php 11-million nitrogen plant to preserve the semen upon its transfer to the LGUs.
Salces said the success of the program and the development of the livestock industry would now be at the commitment of the AI technicians and the support of the LGUs.
In a separate year-end meeting with Cebu AI technicians, Elumba said Cebu is still leading in the implementation of the program.
But the common trend is that the program is now being accepted at the grassroots level. Most of the LGUs now have their own AI technicians.
“We can no longer say that AI program is a national or provincial program. Now, there is a sense of belongingness of the program at the local level,” he said.
While an initiative has been taken to strengthen the DA extension programs through the National Economic Development Authority, he urged the LGUs to provide more funds for the program as well.
Aside from multi-tasking, one of the common concerns of AI technicians is the logistical support.
The Congress, which was hosted by the PCC, was attended by the AI technicians from Regions 6, 7, and 8. The AI technicians from Bohol and Siquijor, however, failed to attend because of the hoisted public storm signal brought by tropical storm Seniang.