ANTIQUE – 14,584 school children are going to school and at the same time avoiding malnutrition because they can drink healthy milk twice a week.
In a proud display of Cooperation Among Cooperatives, Pandan Multi-Purpose Cooperative and Hamtic Multi-Purpose Cooperative have joined hands and partnered with the Municipal Government and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in supplying milk to school children.
The parties signed the agreement in October 2020, wherein the PCC would supply special breed carabaos to the co-op members and assist the co-op in production.
Initially, 89 member-farmers of PMPC were assigned to take care of 118 carabaos. 155 carabaos were likewise assigned to farmer-members of Hamtic MPC. Under the agreement, the co-ops buy the milk from the farmers daily, and then bottle, store and refrigerate, and eventually deliver the milk to the schools.
A native carabao can produce one liter (L) of milk per day, while a crossbred buffalo up to five per day, and a purebred as much as eight.
343 schools in the entire island of Panay are involved in the project that is called “ALAB KARBAWAN” a Province-wide Carabao-Based Business Improvement Network.
PMPC supplies 7,483 liters of milk every week to 11 municipalities. Hamtic MPC supplies 7,101 liters of milk to ten more municipalities.
Excess production is sold to the public in chocolate, pandan, melon and ube flavors. Chocolate milk has proven to be the top-seller.
The biggest challenge the co-ops face is storage and transportation of the milk. For storage, the PCC supplied refrigerators and a delivery truck valued at Php 3 Million.
Since starting the project, 18 cubs have been born (11 males and 7 females), thus making the total inventory to 136 heads for Pandan MPC alone.
Aside from the 89 farmer-households involved, the bottling and delivery operations currently employs 12 workers for Pandan MPC.
To ensure ample supply, another co-op, Kalinog Farmers MPC in Iloilo, also supplies milk to the program.
Terms of the agreement include for the PCC a budget of Php 10M which includes the livestock, milk processing equipment, storage and packaging and display equipment, vitamin supplements, training, forage planting materials, and training on feed production.
ALAB KARBAWAN Program is a result of Republic Act 11037 known as “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa mga Batang Pilipino Act of 2018” and RA 8172 of the “Philippine Food Fortification Act of 2000.”
Thirty percent of the net income from the enterprise will be “shared to the Local Government Unit of Pandan.”
The animals are insured with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.
Elated with the growth of the project, the leaders of Pandan MPC and Hamtic MPC see more expansion in 2022, as they are set to sign another agreement, this time with the Dept. of Social Welfare & Development to supply milk to 1,200 pupils to another municipality.
Dedaci Nepomuceno, member of the Board of Pandan MPC, urges the farmers to “love their carabaos so they will produce more milk and produce more carabaos!”
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