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Philippine to import cattle from Brazil in 2018

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Philippine Department of Agriculture or DA has allocated P1 billion for the importation of cattle from Brazil next year to boost dairy production, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.

Piñol told the BusinessMirror that the DA’s allocation for its cattle importation program is included in its approved budget of P60.6 billion for 2018.

“Number of heifers the DA will import will depend on the price per head. The department plans to engage local government units [LGUs], particularly the provincial government of Batangas, to partner with us,” he said.

“LGUs could build the livestock sheds and the funds could be sourced from the Philippine Rural Development Project [PRDP] I-Reap component, which is the slow-moving component of PRDP,” Piñol added.

DA chief said he will visit Brazil in December right after the World Trade Organization’s 11th Ministerial Conference in Argentina.

Earlier, Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply Blairo Maggi said his government remains keen on selling Girolando cattle to the Philippines.

“Brazil is still interested in selling cattle to the Philippines, in fact, we recently sent back questionnaires to the Philippines and we are expecting that the Philippines will send a mission here to fine-tune remaining issues,” Maggi told foreign journalists in a news briefing in São Paulo, Brazil, on August 28.

Maggi said Brazil is also open to exporting other genetic materials as well as other breeds of cattle, such as those for meat production.

“Brazil has a number of markets which are open for slaughter cattle and open for breeding not just for [live] cows but also genetic materials,” Maggi said. “Brazil has this interest and each mission we carried out we present our portfolio to show our interests to send our livestock overseas.”

Importation of Girolando cattle from Brazil is part of the DA’s plan to ramp up local milk production to meet at least 10 percent of annual domestic requirement by 2022 and reduce the country’s reliance on imports.

Girolando, a breed which is a cross between the Brazilian Gyr and Holstein cattle, is ideal for milk and meat production in tropical climates, according to Piñol.

“Long-neglected dairy and livestock sectors will receive a boost when the DA starts a five-year master plan to empower backyard hog raisers, increase the national cattle population and raise milk production from 1 percent to 10 percent of the national requirement starting 2018,” Piñol said earlier.

“Five-year road map for livestock and dairy, which is now being crafted by the DA, will bring together all of the agencies under the department and focus their resources on the declared targets,” he added.

Under the road map, identified participating villages or towns will be designated as community multiplier farms, which will be owned and managed by a group of farmers, according to Piñol.

Despite this, however, the share of local milk output to the country’s total supply shrank while that of imports went up. The Philippines bought a total of 65,600 MT of ready-to-drink liquid milk from abroad last year, 53.77 percent higher than the 42,660 MT imported in 2015.

On an annual basis, government data showed that Philippine dairy imports expanded by 54 percent to 2.77 million MT in 2016.

Dairy products are currently the Philippines’s third-largest agricultural import after wheat and soybean meal.that the DA’s allocation for its cattle importation program is included in its approved budget of P60.6 billion for 2018.

“Number of heifers the DA will import will depend on the price per head. The department plans to engage local government units [LGUs], particularly the provincial government of Batangas, to partner with us,” he said.

“LGUs could build the livestock sheds and the funds could be sourced from the Philippine Rural Development Project [PRDP] I-Reap component, which is the slow-moving component of PRDP,” Piñol added.

The DA chief said he will visit Brazil in December right after the World Trade Organization’s 11th Ministerial Conference in Argentina.