MUÑOZ CITY, Nueva Ecija - To boost efforts in developing the carabao industry toward food and nutrition security and livelihood, some 200 scientists, agricultural entrepreneurs, and practitioners from the Philippines and Asian countries attended a two-day global meeting here which kicked off on Thursday.
The International Conference on Carabao-Based Enterprise Development (CBED) is a joint undertaking of the Muñoz-based Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and the Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
The two-day conference also aims to intensify efforts of both government and the private sector to develop the local carabao industry.
Keynoted through a message by Sen. Cynthia Villar, Senate Committees chair on Agriculture and Food and Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, which was read by Lawyer Rhagee Tamaña, the event will culminate today. SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. and PCC Executive Director Arnel del Barrio opened the conference.
“We at the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food welcome the holding of this international conference which could really level up the discussion on the continued growth and development of the carabao industry, all the allied industries, and most especially the farmers and other stakeholders,” Villar said in her message.
The conference is part of the PCC-funded project “Building Capacity and Strengthening Partnership for Carabao Development Program” that SEARCA implements to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD), the thematic focus of the Center’s 10th five-year plan until 2019.
For agribusiness, entrepreneurship
During the opening, Saguiguit said SEARCA’s own initiatives are geared toward agribusiness and entrepreneurship, and value chain development of important agricultural commodities to help smallholder carabao farmers including livestock raisers, to competitively participate and benefit from the growing agricultural food markets.
“In this connection, we see the huge potential of buffalo-based enterprises as a profitable venture that can create and support more jobs, augment income, enhance nutrition and push forward inclusive economic transformation in the countryside,” Saguiguit said.
He said the two-day landmark conference is expected to refine programs and initiatives that directly benefit smallholder carabao farmers in the Philippines and other Asian countries, while mutually beneficial partnerships in relevant research and development initiatives are also explored.
“We are therefore keenly interested in the knowledge and experience exchanges during the conference, particularly potential partnerships and collaborations leading to the development of buffalo-based enterprises in the Philippines and in the Southeast Asian region,” Saguiguit said.
“We also look forward to the inspiring stories and valuable insights gained from experts, experienced entrepreneurs, and conference participants about the buffalo industry,” he added.
In the two-day conference, the carabao industry stakeholders will also discuss government policies, regulations, support facilities and logistics needed in developing carabao-based enterprises, and exchange scientific and technological knowledge and best practices in carabao-based enterprise development (CBED).
The plenary speakers are scientists and experts from the Philippines, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, India and Thailand who presented their respective topics including institutional perspective on CBED as well as perspective from the private sector in Asia.
Meanwhile, a monograph on “Dairy Buffalo Value Chain Analysis in Luzon, Philippines” jointly published by PCC and SEARCA was also launched during the opening of the conference.
Saguiguit said the project, which is a result of an excellent work of Flor Lantican and her team, contains policy directions and strategies to enhance the industry’s competitiveness and increase participation and share of smallholder farmers in the value chain.