MANILA - The Commission on Audit has recommended that agriculture officials work double time as the reported increase in the dairy herd failed to reach the desired local milk sufficiency level in the country through 2018.
In a report released this month on the country's herd build-up and carabao development programs, government auditors noted that local milk production remains at 1.3 percent, while importers dominated the market at 98.7 percent as of 2018.
The domestic produce is 54 percent short of the 2.8 percent sufficiency level target, it said.
On Monday, Sen. Cynthia Villar, who chairs the upper chamber's Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform, partly attributed the problems of malnutrition and children's dullness to the country's dairy program, saying, "Kung walang available na murang gatas, pa'no iinom ng gatas ang mga bata?"
The COA report also noted that even with the average increase of 3 percent annually in the number of dairy animals from 39,069 in 2012, to 47,000 in 2018, the target of 198,977 indicated in the Department of Agriculture's Dairy Road Map remains unmet.
“The DRM, a medium-term development plan, which served as the blueprint of achieving the vision of a vibrant local dairy industry with main objective of gaining significant local milk sufficiency level had not served its purpose,” the report said.
The COA report also noted the lowering of targets by the Philippine Carabao Center and the National Dairy Authority due to the budget allocated for them.
Worse, operational issues prevented the PCC and the NDA from fully implementing their strategies such as artificial insemination and breeding services, resulting in a calf drop rate of 42 percent, instead of 60 percent, the report said.
Other agencies, such as the Bureau of Animal Industry and the Dairy Training Research Institute, also did not have well-defined roles under the DRM.
The report said government allocated at least P2.85 billion for the increase of dairy animals to 198,977, to subsequently raise the milk sufficiency rate to 2.8 percent by end of 2018.
Following its assessment, the COA urged stakeholders to coordinate more effectively, and consider, among others, artificial insemination and bull breeding to increase the inventory of animals.
“It is expected that the demand for locally produced milk with the implementation of RA 11037 or the National Feeding Program will provide impetus to the government as well as the private sector for more investments aimed at increasing the number of dairy animals and volume of milk production,” the report said.
The DRM aims to increase the milk market share of local producers to 10 percent by 2022.
The report on herd build-up and development programs can be downloaded from the COA website.