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Agusan Del Sur IPs Reap Fruits From PHP8.6 Million Government Dairy Project

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Agusan Del Sur IPs Reap Fruits From PHP8.6 Million Government Dairy Project

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At least 30 Sibagat Manobo Dairy Producers (SMDP) members are now enjoying the financial returns from the project they conceptualized and supported by the government in 2023.

The SMDP is a local organization in Barangay Padiay, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, composed of members of the Manobo tribe who are indigenous peoples (IPs).

Led by Datu Jimson Sumanda, the group, whose members are primarily engaged in abaca and banana farming, faced challenging times last year.

SMDP sought the assistance of its tribal council to find livelihood support projects from government agencies, to which it was referred to the Department of Agriculture in the Caraga Region (DA-13).

Upon referral, SMDP secured a project from the agency under the Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran ng Kababayang Katutubo (4K) program for a dairy cattle and milk production project.

In December last year, SMDP got the bulk of its project, which consisted of 20 heads of cattle, a cattle house and facility, two milking machines, a milk cooling plant, 10 milk containers, a forage chopper, a silage bunker, a generator set, a hauling vehicle, a tractor, and a water system, all worth PHP8.6 million.

“We were also provided by DA-13 with training on milk production techniques and underwent benchmarking activities in Claveria, Misamis Oriental, and Gingoog City in Region 10 to enhance our skills and knowledge,” Sumanda said in an interview on Tuesday.

To help the project thrive, he said members planted forage grass in a 4-hectare area in their barangay to serve as their feed source for the cattle.

“During our first production early this year, we sold milk products in our community and neighboring barangays. We were selling our 350ml bottles at PHP35 each while the 1-liter bottles at PHP100 each,” he said.

From January to March this year, their income from selling in their community was used for maintenance expenses, including the feeds. During that time, Sumanda said orders for their milk also started to arrive, especially from other towns and cities in the region.

“We saw that it is a promising venture and will be a big boost to our livelihood as we continue our milk production,” he said, adding that the project produced 20 liters of milk per three cows daily.

To date, the group’s 13 cows produce 160 liters of milk daily, translating to around PHP16,000 in daily sales.

As the other cows give birth, the group also plans to sell its fully grown calves to fund the construction of additional facilities as its business grows.

“We are thankful to the government, particularly the DA through the 4K program, for seeing the needs of IP communities and providing the needed interventions,” Sumanda said. (PNA)