MANILA - Two days after forging a partnership with the French government to boost cooperation in food security, Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Wednesday directed the National Dairy Authority (NDA) and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) to recalibrate production strategies and seek aggressive tie-up with the private sector.
"There is a huge potential in the (dairy) sector, but the challenge continues at all levels. But just because the challenge is there, we cannot be complacent and fail to persevere," Dar said in a statement on Wednesday.
Dar said vast potential in the local dairy industry could be achieved if investors take risk, citing the need to rely less on importation.
The Philippines is a big importer of dairy products, particularly milk powder, according to the DA.
In 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed that local milk production increased by 9.5 percent from 24.38 million liters in 2019 to 26.71 million liters in 2020.
The DA attributed this to the increase of dairy animals in the milk line including cattle, buffalo, and goat. The lead milk-producing provinces are Davao, Laguna, Bulacan, Bukidnon and Batangas.
On the other hand, imports and exports of milk and dairy products logged decrease. Milk and dairy imports went down by 14 percent to 2.163 billion liters from 2.516 billion liters year-on-year.
Of the total dairy imported products in 2020, majority is in the form of skimmed milk powder of about 1 billion liters.
Other dairy imported products included whey powder, liquid ready-to-drink milk, buttermilk powder, butter fat/dairy spread, cream, whole milk powder, and cheese among others.
The PSA report also showed a sectoral value increase of 18 percent or PHP1.207 billion from PHP1.023 billion in 2019.
"While there's a notable increase in milk production, that it is still not enough to supply the local demand. Let us triple our efforts, particularly in implementing modernizing programs, employing state-of-the-art facilities, and seeking collaborations with stakeholders such as cooperatives, private farms, government farms, milk traders, and commercial processors," Dar said.
"The recent joint declaration signing between the Philippines and France will play a huge part in our effort to beef up the sector. Both countries have committed to facilitate links between dairy producers and associations, agricultural and agri-food companies, and importers and distributors. A developed dairy industry will provide livelihood opportunities for our local dairy farmers and cooperatives, creating sustainable markets for them," he added.
On Monday, Dar signed a joint declaration with the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food, affirming its commitment to ensure the development of the dairy sector.
The declaration builds on the agreement between the Philippines and France to strengthen cooperation for the development of public policies in food security, particularly in the dairy sector, through technical and economic partnerships between stakeholders of the Filipino and French agri-food industry.
During the signing ceremony held via video conference, Dar expressed his gratitude to France for the ongoing cooperation between the two countries.
He also conveyed his support for the upcoming cooperation actions such as the implementation of a pilot project for the integrated development of the dairy sector as well as the official visit of a Philippine delegation to France for benchmarking of best practices that may be applicable to the Philippine dairy industry.
Under the joint declaration, the two ministries commit to "facilitate the linking of dairy producers and associations; agricultural and agri-food companies; and importers and distributors of the two counties and encourage them to find opportunities for partnerships and commercial collaborations." (PNA)