Batac, Ilocos Norte, June 18, 2003  (STAR) The "carabao landscape" of the Ilocos Region is changing.

On Ilocandia’s farms can now be seen robust and large carabao, products of an upgrading program being implemented by the government through the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Carabao Center (DA-PCC).

Over the past seven years, 1,084 upgraded carabaos have been produced in the Region 1 provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Abra, reported Dr. Zosimo Ma. Pablico, information director of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Currently headed by Dr. Satur Ocampo Jr., MMSU is a multi-campus university whose seat of administration is the main campus in Batac.

Dr. Pablico said the native carabaos in Ilocandia are being upgraded through artificial insemination (AI) and natural breeding by Murrah, a dairy type of buffalo.

As of December 2002, upgraded carabaos had been produced through AI in the three Ilocos provinces, said Marjorie Grace Recta, PCCC at MMSU chief. She added that 94 had been produced through natural breeding by Murrah bulls loaned to five organized farmers’ groups.

Of the 990 produced through AI, 740 were born in Ilocos Norte, 174 in Abra, and 74 in Ilocos Sur.

Dr. Pablico said that AI of native carabaos in the Ilocos began in 1995 when Dr. Zosimo Battad was then chief of PCC at MMSU (he is now president of the Pampanga Agricultural College in Magalang town).

Dr. Battad, who subsequently became PCC deputy executive director in 1996, led a few technicians in upgrading the native carabao in the three provinces.

A female Murrah buffalo grows fast and can produce an average of eight liters of milk everyday for 300 days, Mrs. Recta said. She added that the draft performance of upgraded carabao at any given time is higher than that of the native carabao because of its bigger body. – RAF

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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