COMMUNITY-BASED DAIRY PROJECT
TRANSFORMS PEOPLE’S LIVES
By : Ernesto T. Solidum
Recently, I watched with deep interest a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) documentary on a successful dairy project done in collaboration with an LGU in one of the villages of Sulawesi in Central Indonesia. It was televised via the NHK TV program. That project was locally initiated to improve socio economic life of villagers who depend on farming. Poverty, unemployment and malnutrition especially among children were rated high. The village is seated 1,500 feet above sea level and so climate is cool where few heads of cattle are raised.
JICA responded by sending a team of experts composed of one veterinarian, one animal nutritionist and one interpreter to the project site for evaluation and orientation. They found that cows raised by farmers were of native stock mainly raised for meat, sickly and malnourished. The animals were of mostly tethered on ordinary pasture of cogon, carabao grass and rice straw/corn stover which are not nutritious.
The first step in solving the problem was to plant napier grass: two (2) hectares as the main food source. Cut and carry method of feeding is used for animals in closed confinement.
Meanwhile, a semi permanent building enough to hold 25 heads Holstein dairy cows was constructed by LGU. Standard shed size is 1.5 x 4 meters for every cattle.
Eight months after establishing improved pasture stock was delivered to project site. Farmers cut lush napier grass one foot above ground, bundled and chopped manually and placed in feeding troughs. The amount of daily forage consumption per animal is computed at 3.0 percent of total body weight (dry basis). This is using tape measurement on girth of animal.
Detection of animals in heat is done by inserting hand inside the vulva and knowing status of the ovaries. This is aptly demonstrated by veterinarian before the farmer cooperators. Once confirmed that the cow is in heat, artificial insemination (AI) is done by injecting frozen bull semen to maintain or upgrade native stock as the case may be.
Among the 25 farmer cooperators, Boso was the most outstanding in detecting animals in oestrus or in heat and administration of AI. His exceptional talent allowed him to provide extra servicing to his farmer neighbors’ cows for a fee. With extra income, he was able to send his two (2) children to college and build a decent house.
After a few weeks, daily milk production reached 6-7 liters per milking cow. Collected milk was pasteurized and delivered in bulk to public elementary schools’ nutrition feeding program three (3) times a week. (Result: more children in attendance during milk feeding). Farmers have enough milk as food source for the family and also for sale.
The use of agricultural wastes particularly rice straw augmented animal ration. This was collected and placed in plastic bags and drums where dissolved urea is poured on dry roughage. This is tightly sealed for two (2) months in storage. This method increases the protein content of rice straw which is only three (3) percent. Urea granules constitute one (1) percent of the total cattle feed ration.
As more farmers found the pilot project profitable, an improved dairy industry was born. An increasing number of dairy cows were milked and the need to use a milking machine and delivery truck was essential. A modest milk processing factory turned out milk candy bars, milk chocolate nuggets, fresh milk in bottles, and others were available to the public. More laborers were hired in the processing plant.
What do they do with animal wastes? Well, solid wastes are collected twice daily and stockpiled to be decomposed. After four (4) months, it becomes fertilizer and sold for additional income. They proved valuable to increase production of rice, corn and vegetables.
A tearful recognition and farewell program was held by LGU officials to JICA personnel after successful implementation of the three (3) year project. Intensive training of local farmers have paid off. Plaques of appreciation were handed out. The most important part was the transfer of responsibility to local trained farmer leaders to continue the project.
A similar dairy project could be duplicated in the Philippines if proper planning and implementation are established. Our farmers have the technological edge and resources but sadly, agriculture is neglected and least prioritized. Yes, we have the National Dairy Authority, yet its leaders are just sleeping on their jobs but busy collecting the people’s money./MP