Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:06:00 10/13/2008

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—Demand for fresh carabao (water buffalo) milk and products derived from it increased here amid reports of melamine contamination of milk and milk-based products from China, officials of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) here said.

“Our sales in September rose to P437,000 from the August sales of P380,000,” said Mina Padilla-Abella, in-charge of the milk processing unit of the PCC at the Central Luzon State University here.

“The melamine scare could be one of the reasons for the increased demand for our milk and milk products,” she said.

The commodities produced by the village-type milk processing unit here are pasteurized milk, choco milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, lacto juice and milk candy. Raw milk comes from purebred and crossbred carabaos.

Padilla-Abella said the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Cooperatives Inc. and the DVF Dairy Farm, both based in Talavera town, also noted the increased demand for carabao milk and products derived from it.

The scare over contaminated milk was brought about by the reported deaths in China of at least four infants due to melamine-tainted milk. Melamine is a substance used in the manufacture of plastic products.

“Our gross sales could have been more if we had enough supply of raw milk,” Padilla-Abella said.

“The water buffalo milk is considered the finest among dairy animal milk,” said Dr. Libertado Cruz, PCC executive director.

“It is safe, nutritious and organic because of the nature of its feed,” Cruz said.

“The demand for carabao milk is whetting the appetite of more farmers to own crossbred dairy carabao,” he said.

A crossbred carabao, a cross between the Murrah buffalo and the native carabao, yields three to five liters of milk a day compared to the native breed’s one to two liters. Harvest from a purebred carabao is at least six liters a day.

Cruz said measures to increase the number of crossbred and purebred carabaos include artificial insemination, a bull loan project and importation.

He said there is more demand than supply of milk, citing 2007 PCC records showing that the country spent $652.45 million (about P35 billion) for milk and milk products importation.

As milk is highly perishable and can easily be contaminated, the PCC assists members of local dairy cooperatives in processing raw milk and developing milk products.

“Our experts train cooperatives members on milk hygiene—from collection to processing,” Cruz said.

Among the hygienic ways emphasized are bathing the animal and disinfecting their teats before milking, putting milk in disinfected stainless containers, pasteurizing it at the correct temperature and other sanitary procedures before the milk is sold.

“We are intensifying efforts in organizing and assisting our farmers to become dairy entrepreneurs. Our center has established national and regional impact zones in which the concept of dairy enterprise was put in place,” Cruz said.

courtesy of Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon