P2.85B dairy program gone sour – COA

    32

    THE government’s P2.85-billion Herd Build-Up Program (HBP), which is aimed at increasing the number of dairy animals and improving local milk production, has produced too little milk while imported breeding animals dropped dead by the dozens.

    In an 111-page performance audit report released on January 23, the Commission on Audit said the five-year program which ran from 2013 to 2018 showed minimal improvement in the number of dairy animals.

    From 39,069 heads at the program’s inception in 2012, there were only 47,600, including cattle and carabao, as of the most recent count in 2018.

    When the program set out in 2012, local milk production accounted for only 1 percent of the country’s dairy requirement with 99 percent brought in by importers.

    Through the HBP, the Department of Agriculture had hoped to increase local supply contribution to hit 10 percent by 2022.

    Auditors, however, said there was too little uptick in the local production – only 0.2 percent for years 2013 to 2016 and 0.3 percent from 2017 to 2018.

    In actual numbers, this meant that the country imported 1.746 billion litters of the local requirement while Filipino cattle and carabao raisers supplied only 23.69 million liters.

    The lead agencies in the HBP – the National Dairy Authority (NDA) and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) – produced less than four of every five liters of that number.

    “Analysis of the local milk production in CY (calendar year) 2018 revealed that of the 23.69 million liters total production for the industry translated to 1.3 percent local milk sufficiency, only 18.40 million liters could be accounted from the reports/data of the NDA and PCC,” the audit team said.

    The NDA production accounted for 15.25 million liters while the PCC contributed 3.15 million liters.

    The COA report identified five causes for the program’s disappointing results: lack of coordination and cooperation among the key agencies; failure of the Dairy Road Map to provide well-defined roles and responsibilities to stakeholders and to tap the private sector; lack of funding for NDA and PCC efforts to improve stocks by importing dairy animals for breeding; low use and success rate of artificial insemination on the breeding herd; and death of livestock that cost losses amounting to P817.77 million during the program period.

    Based on the audit figures, the NDA had planned to bring in 11,880 heads of breeding cattle under the Dairy Road Map, but only 3,060 dairy animals were brought into the country between 2013 and 2018.

    The PCC was unable to import dairy buffaloes “due to lack of funding support from the Department of Agriculture.”

    With not enough cattle and carabao heads, the number of animals dropping dead stopped the program in its tracks.

    “For CYs 2013 to 2018, the NDA registered 2,614 cattle mortalities of 10 percent of the total dairy cattle population … costing the government P346.35 million,” the COA said.

    Over at the PCC, the picture was even worse.

    “The PCC registered 3,284 buffalo mortalities which cost P471.42 million. Based on our interviews with program officials and dairy farmers, these mortalities were caused by problems with herd management, inadequate provision of proper animal health care services, and non-provision of housing facilities for animals,” the report said.

    Despite the costly setbacks, the COA recommended that the program be continued by addressing the problems already identified.

    Even in the absence of adequate funding to import dairy animals, it urged the NDA and the PCC to focus on the implementation of artificial insemination on the existing herd and step up the buy-back program with partner raisers to increase their inventory and lessen the impact of mortality.