SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija— Make way for
the country’s super carabaos.
At the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) here, the male carabao
(water buffalo) weighs 750 kilograms and counting, while the
female carabao yields 17 to 20 liters of milk a day, according
to Dr. Libertado Cruz, the center’s executive director.
These carabaos will be the center of attraction on Friday during
the launching of three books on the carabao development program
to celebrate the PCC’s 17th anniversary.
Although Cruz was reluctant to call them “super carabaos,”
the water buffaloes at the gene pool here look hugely different
from the native carabaos.
The native carabaos weigh an average of 350 kg, while the native
dam gives a milk yield of an average of 1.5 liters a day.
“We want the public, particularly the farmers, to see
our best performing animals in our gene pool,” Cruz said.
“As they appreciate them, we want to underscore that
they, like many farmers now, can produce their own improved
breed of carabaos and open opportunities for themselves to become
Beyond draft power
Beyond their draft power, carabaos can help generate income
and create jobs, Cruz said.
He said about 3.3 million native and crossbred carabaos in
the country were used mainly for draft purposes in sugarcane
plantations and rice and corn farms, and for hauling.
“The milk, meat, hide and horn businesses from carabaos
are still not yet fully developed,” Cruz said.
Prospects for big business
For liquid milk alone, the potential market demand yearly is
worth billions of pesos, according to the PCC executive director.
Records showed that in 2007, the country spent $652.45 million
(about P30.66 billion) for the importation of 287.86 million
kg of milk and milk products.
While the country’s milk production (from cows, carabaos
and goats) increased from 12.79 million kg in 2006 to 13.23
million kg in 2007, the output in 2007 represented only 23 percent
of the liquid milk supply.
The demand for meat, on the other hand, was equivalent to 400,000
head worth P4 billion, Cruz said.
“We can include the hide and horn of the carabaos as
also potential sources of big business in the country. So there’s
no doubt that farmers, entrepreneurs and the local economy can
ride high on the prospects for business that the carabaos can
bring,” he said.
Cruz also said carabao enterprises could provide jobs for caretakers,
veterinarians and veterinary aides, milk processors, milk and
delivery men, village-based technicians, and in the case of
dairy cooperatives, bookkeepers and office workers.
The PCC, which was established with the passage of Republic
Act No. 7307 in 1992, is tasked with conserving, propagating
and promoting the carabao as a source of draft animal power,
meat, milk and hide.
It was the declining size, weight and population of the native
carabaos that prompted then Sen. Joseph Estrada to author the
Carabao Act of 1992.
“Broadly, our task is to pursue the genetic transformation
of our native carabaos to produce improved breed for draft,
milk, meat, hide and horn purposes,” Cruz said.
Through the PCC’s 13 stations across the country, technology
transfer on the care and production of carabaos, and teaching
and encouraging rural families to engage in carabao enterprises
are also pursued.
The genetic transformation being done by the PCC, after conducting
thorough research and development, is through the production
of semen from imported bulls and its distribution for artificial
insemination to native carabaos.
The center also uses reproductive biotechnology called embryo
transfer technology, or the test-tube technique.
“It really takes a long time to produce quality animals
from cross breeding. It takes three generations or 15 years
to attain 87.5 percent genetic purity for the improved breed
of native carabaos,” Cruz said.
He said the PCC would continue to select and infuse superior
breed from abroad to further improve the breed of carabaos in