SMC to start donation of carabao milk from farmers; helps industry build resilience through R&D support

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is set to distribute some 5,000 liters of excess pasteurized carabao’s milk to six cities and provinces in Luzon as part of its efforts to help struggling dairy farmers mitigate financial losses brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Limited access to markets following the 2-month quarantine period resulted in the spoilage of their products.

SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said that the company, with the help of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) in Nueva Ecija, is buying the excess milk from farmers of the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabao Cooperative (NEFEDCCO).

SMC, PCC, and NEFEDCCO, will then jointly implement a feeding program to distribute the milk to some 5,000 beneficiaries—primarily vulnerable children, the elderly, and front-liners—across Pampanga, Bulacan, Navotas, Manila, Malabon, Cavite, Quezon, City, San Juan, and Mandaluyong.

The initiative is part of SMC’s ongoing efforts to help the agriculture industry as well as provide basic nutritional support to disadvantaged families and communities, as the country grapples with the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and on people’s daily lives.

“When we first heard about their (carabao farmers’) plight and the amount of milk that was just going to waste, we knew we had to do something to help. With this initiative, which the Department of Agriculture (DA) helped bring about, we are targeting to provide up to 1,000 liters of carabao milk per area. We will donate this specifically for the benefit of children and the elderly in poor communities,” Ang said.

“With this, we will also be able to provide farmers with additional income. Instead of their product—and capital—going to waste, it will help keep children and the elderly nourished and healthy. This is important especially since we are all fighting a health crisis right now, and the less-fortunate are especially vulnerable,” Ang added.

The project, which is being undertaken by the San Miguel Foundation, will also have long-term and sustainable benefits for the farmers.

SMC has brought into the project its packaging arm, San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp. (SMYPC), to utilize its technical expertise to provide research and development (R&D) assistance to PCC, to develop ways to extend the shelf-life of their carabao milk to 3-6 months, way beyond the current seven days.

“Ideally, we would like to see them be able to extend their products’ shelf life to at least three to six months,” Ang said. “By doing this, the Philippine Carabao Center will eliminate spoilage and will be able to pursue worthwhile tie-ups to boost the industry.”

He added: “One example would be a partnership with the Department of Education for a milk feeding program for public school children. With extended shelf life, the milk can also be more easily transported and distributed throughout the country, giving carabao farmers a wider market, and even higher output and livelihood.”

Earlier, SMC said it had purchased a total of 78,000 metric tons corn, from local farmers who could not get their output out of the provinces due to limitations both on transportation and the operation of markets brought on by the necessary Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) implemented in Luzon and many parts of the country.

Apart from boosting farmers’ incomes during the quarantine, the move also allowed SMC to secure raw materials for the production of feeds, which are essential in the production of meat products.

SMC also opened its Petron gas stations to the DA’s “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” program, to help local farmers sell their fresh produce, primarily fruits and vegetables, to consumers in Metro Manila.