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Dairy herd eyed for expansion in move to increase milk output

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it plans to expand the dairy cattle herd to help achieve the National Dairy Authority’s (NDA) plan to boost milk production.

“If we increase the number of cattle in the milking line, then we can increase production. Immediate effects will be felt. Developments in this sector will not only benefit our farmers but also help address malnutrition in the provinces,” Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. said in a statement on Monday.

The NDA said that production is expected to hit 1.98 million metric tons (MT) this year. Philippine production is equivalent to 1% of its dairy demand, with imports servicing the remainder.

The Philippines imported 2.18 million MT of milk and milk products as of September 2023, according to the NDA.

In 2023, dairy production amounted to 17,850 MT, or about 0.8% of milk consumption of 1.94 million MT. The milk cow herd was 75,798 head in 2023.

“We should advocate for greater investment in dairy cows which are the primary milk producers,” NDA Administrator Gabriel L. Lagamayo said.

Mr. Lagamayo said increasing production would require “a dramatic increase” in the dairy population, better distribution networks, the construction of new dairy facilities, and the promotion of milk and dairy consumption.

The NDA and the Department of Education have recently renewed programs to promote the consumption of domestically produced milk among students.

Mr. Lagamayo has said that schools are a major market for dairy farmers, as most of them have expanded their operations to cater to the public school feeding programs.

The government is aiming to increase dairy production to 80 million liters of milk per year by 2028.

Imports of milk and milk products are expected to increase this year amid the continued growth in demand, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA projects demand to rise 3% to 3.5 million MT in liquid milk equivalent in 2024. — Adrian H. Halili