People find their calling in artificial inseminationBy Anselmo Roque
Inquirer Central Luzon
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ – At dawn on a typical working day, Cornelio Agustin, 37, would get up, ride his motorcycle to go to a farmer’s spread and, once there, he would take out from his backpack the instruments he would need to artificially inseminate a carabao.
Once he’s done, Agustin would travel to another farmland in another village to provide artificial insemination (AI) service.
Other farmers wait their turn throughout the day.
“It’s a good job. I help farmers in different places produce quality bred animals, which can provide lots of milk to sell,” says Agustin, a resident of Talavera, Nueva Ecija.
In nearby Bulacan, another AI technician, Eduardo Manuson, 29, is also on his way to fulfill his commitment to 10 farmers.
Manuson of Barangay (village) Buliran in San Miguel town not only administers AI on carabaos, he also does cattle, hogs and goats.
Agustin and Manuson take pride in being village-based artificial insemination technicians (VBAIT).
AI is a process by which sperm of quality bulls is extracted and injected into the reproductive tract of female farm animals. The earnings of an AI expert are substantial, so are the revenues generated by the farmers they serve.
“I get from P25,000 to P30,000 a month, depending on the season for breeding,” Agustin said.
Manuson is now known far and wide in his province and beyond. He even receives calls from Candaba in Pampanga. He earns up to P50,000 a month.
In 2009, Manuson administered AI on 388 carabaos, which gave birth to 267 crossbred calves in 2010. This represents a success rate of 68.81 percent, which is above the national average of 40 percent.
The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), which monitors his activities, cited Manuson as its most outstanding VBAIT. He was given a tribute on March 25 during PCC’s 18th anniversary celebration.
Agustin and Manuson are both high school graduates. They became technicians after they took a 24-day free training on artificial insemination and pregnancy diagnosis offered by PCC.
Agustin finished his training in 2003 while Manuson completed his in 2006. There are about 80 VBAITs in Central Luzon, says Dr. Felomino Mamuad, PCC deputy executive director.
Throughout the country, there are about 1,000 VBAIT serving farmers, Mamuad adds.
“Developing village-based technicians was [the idea] of our executive director [Dr. Libertado Cruz] to help in the crossbreeding program for carabaos,” Mamuad says.
Cruz observed that the number of government livestock technicians, including those of PCC, was not enough to serve remote areas. So the agency launched a program to train VBAITs, adds Mamuad.
“[Cruz] wants to train as many as 2,000 VBAITs so that areas in the Visayas and Mindanao can also be served,” he says.
PCC began training VBAITs in 2003. Prospective VBAITs learn the anatomy of a female carabao’s reproductive organ, its reproductive cycle, the function of a bull’s semen and components and techniques in artificial insemination.
Mamuad says VBAITs are also trained to detect signs that indicate how a female carabao will behave.
VBAITs usually bring their own liquid nitrogen tanks, AI injection guns, gloves, canisters that hold the frozen semen, plastic sheaths, semen scissors and cutters, semen straw forceps, thermometer thawing jars, lubricants and disinfectants.
PCC supplies them with Murrah buffalo semen. Canisters of cattle semen usually come from a stock farm in Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija. But VBAITs must learn to source out the semen of other livestock themselves.
“Our AI service is really a big help for the farmers. They are able to multiply the quality breed animals,” Agustin says. “We go to farmers who seek out our services no matter where they are.”
The VBAITs in Central Luzon are in the process of registering their newly formed cooperative.
“The cooperative will make us truly privatized. We will source out our own needs and set our unified rules on how to go about with our services,” Agustin explains.
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