ALIAGA, Nueva Ecija—Sylvia Pasaña, 45, a farmer’s wife in Barangay Bibiclat here, was in front of her house one early morning to wait for the most important person that she was certain to come.
She held a plastic gallon of milk collected earlier by her husband from their three crossbreed dairy carabaos.
Soon, the milk collector came. He took the milk bottles, poured their contents in a steel canister and after determining through a lactometer that it was “Grade A,” paid Pasaña P360 for the 10 liters of fresh milk she turned in.
Pasaña is one of 60 women from eight villages in Aliaga and nearby Talavera town who sell daily the milk from their families’ carabaos to Florencio Jacinto, an accredited milk collector of the DVF Dairy Farm Inc. in Talavera.
Elsewhere in the province, members of the 55 dairy cooperatives also sell the milk harvested from their carabaos to different milk collectors.
Most are taken to the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabao Cooperatives (Nefedcco), an umbrella organization of local cooperatives and which serves as their marketing arm.
In other towns and cities in Nueva Ecija, farmers who own about 6,000 female crossbreeds, about a third of them lactating, sell milk to various outlets.
“Our dairy carabaos have brought a lot of changes in our lives,” Pasaña says. “We don’t worry anymore for our daily needs and for our children’s school allowance.”
In the past, she says they used to earn only during rice harvest, which happens three months after planting.
Jacinto, also a rice farmer, says that when he became a milk collector, life for him and his family changed dramatically.
He earns about P20,000 a month for the P2 mark-up price he turns over to the DVF Dairy Farm.
The DVF Dairy Farm, a milk processor, sells 90 percent of its products in Metro Manila, Pampanga and Cebu and the rest in its Nueva Ecija outlet. It is set to market its product to Hong Kong soon.
Miracle Sibayan, plant manager, says the plant processes from 800 to 1,200 liters of milk a day.
The milk supply is turned into liquid products (pasteurized milk), flavored milk (chocolate, buko-pandan extract and melon flavored), cheese line (kesong puti, queso blanco and mozzarella cheese), yogurt line (creamy, crunchy yogurt with nata de coco, non-fat yogurt and mango-flavored yogurt) and dry products (pastillas, espasol and milk candies).
The DVF Dairy Farm is a family-owned company put up by Talavera businessman Danilo Fausto, president of the Dairy Confederation of the Philippines.
Fausto used to work in the financial market and served as executive vice president and general manager of the Preferred Securities Corp.
In the early ’90s, he underwent training at the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) on carabao raising and dairying. He eventually formed a cooperative composed of farmers and put up in 2000 his own dairy processing.
He is helping several dairy farmers in his hometown of Talavera and in other areas put up dairy cooperatives.
PCC officials said at least 55 cooperatives are operating in Nueva Ecija. In 2008, PCC declared Nueva Ecija as the national impact zone for carabao-based enterprise development (CBED) under the national government’s carabao development program (CDP).