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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

DA-BAI to implement P850 million livestock dispersal among coconut farmers

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Program under RA 11524, the trust fund managing coconut levy

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is implementing an P850-million livestock dispersal program for coconut farmers in partnership with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

   Under the Coconut Farmers Industry and Trust Fund Act (CFI-TFA) under Republic Act 11524, DA will start dispersing chicken, native pigs, and goats perhaps toward the end of the year. 

   This is in support of coconut farmers, the coconut industry in general, who are the intended beneficiaries of the coconut levy fund that is now under the management of the Coconut Farmers Industry Trust Fun).

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   Dr. Rene C. Santiago of the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry said during the Animal Health Congress that the budget for the livestock program stands at P166 million or thereabouts per year for five years. It totals around P850 million over five years.

   “It is now under process with the procurement.  There is already a supplier for chicken, native pigs, and goats,” said Santiago.

   The five-year program will make a significant difference in the lives of coconut farmers who own or tend not more than five hectares of coconut farms as per the CFI-TFA. 

   “We in DA’s Livestock Group and with the leadership of Secretary (Francisco) Tiu Laurel all follow the same mission to help raise the income of farmers among whom coconut farmers are the poorest.  Teaching them how to raise animals will make so much difference in their ability to earn income for their families,” said DA Undersecretary Deogracias Victor B. Savellano.

   Beneficiaries who are now being identified by PCA also include leaseholders or tenants who till coconut on not more than five hectares.

   Farm laborers, whether occasional or itinerant, who are harvesting coconuts or working in copra processing as a major means of livelihood are also beneficiaries.   

   Santiago said that since the program will be implemented by DA-BAI, the potential for successful adoption of animal-raising technology even among coconut farmers is high.

   “We are already integrating training of coconut farmers on how to raise animals.  Farmers need to sign a form, and they need to declare that they have undergone training and seminars to start an animal-raising business,” Santiago said.

   Local government veterinarians forming the Provincial, City, and Municipal Veterinarians League of the Philippines (PCM-VLP)  have observed that many livestock dispersal programs of the government have failed. 

   This is apparently due to the absence of support systems to help crop farmers run livestock and poultry businesses.

   “They should involve us provincial veterinarians from the very beginning so we may hold trainings and seminars even before farmers start raising animals.  What has been happening is we are called when there is already a problem (animals get sick).  This is so that we won’t waste our resources when animals die before we come in,” said Dr. Mary Grace Bustamante during the Animal Health Congress.

   The livestock program is set now for just five years in line with the DA’s mandate to raise livestock production during the term of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.  However,  the trust fund itself extends to 50 years. 

   As such, the trust fund could help sustain a long-term livelihood enhancement program for farmers who continue to integrate livestock raising into their coconut farming. 

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