, FEBRUARY 26, 2007
 (STAR) By Sosimo Ma. Pablico - The buffalo has gained increasing popularity among Cagayan farmers who are now making more money from buffalo upgrades produced by artificially inseminating female Philippine carabaos with semen from buffalo bulls.

Data from the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) at Cagayan State University (CSU) show that AI in Region II, covering Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Apayao and Kalinga, has produced a total 2,488 Murrah buffalo upgrades since 1984.

The first buffalo upgrade or mestizo carabao in Region 2 was produced in 1984 by Frank Rellin, PCC at CSU center director, when he was still the AI technician and project in-charge of the PCRDC (Philippine Carabao Research and Development Center) at CSU in Piat, Cagayan. The first two mestizos in Cagayan Valley were born that year. A big difference Among the barangays in Cagayan where AI has made a great difference in the lives of farmers is Brgy. Sta. Barbara in Piat, the AI pilot area during the PCRDC years starting in 1988, which is literally a stone throw away from PCC at CSU.

Take Marcelino Manera, 50, whose old native carabao still gave birth to a female buffalo upgrade or mestizo (50 percent Philippine carabao x 50 percent Murrah buffalo) through AI. The heifer was raised as a dam, and gave birth to seven F2 offspring (25 percent Philippine carabao x 75 percent Murrah buffalo).

Marcelino sold five upgrades to his brother at different occasions. He got P15,000 for the first offspring when it was already six years old. This was followed by two males, which were sold for P10,000 and P15,000. His brother later sold the first male for P17,000. Two other males were sold for P14,000 and P12,500.

Marcelino said he is going to raise the youngest female calf as a replacement for the dam, which he will sell for no less than P20,000. Indeed, the money helped his family a lot since livelihood activities in Piat are not many as well as not very rewarding.

Husband and wife Danilo and Dominga Rebuca likewise sold three of their to five upgrades as follows: a six-month old male for P7,000; a seven-month old male for P10,000 and then sold later to a butcher for P14,000; and a female for P11,000, which the buyer raised as a dam. Dominga would have wanted to raise their upgrades themselves but they have no other recourse except to sell them.

Reynaldo Manera and Edwin Villanueva have also been selling their buffalo upgrades.

Two of Reynaldo’s three F1s (50 percent Philippine carabao x 50 percent Murrah buffalo) were sold for P17,000 (six years old) and P10,000 (eight months old). He used the money for the construction of his house. In like manner, Edwin sold three female F2s to be able to provide food for his family as follows: P9,500, P5,000, and P4,000.

Rosita Turingan, a barangay councilor in Brgy. Tana, Amulung, summed up here experience thus: "What PCC has done to us is very nice; it helped us in sending our children to school."

She sold her first mestizo carabao, 15 months old, for P18,000 because her son who was taking up BS Radiology Technology badly needed money. She also sold the second buffalo upgrade for P11,000. No one wants to be left out Rosita recalled that their neighbors refused to adopt AI, but when they saw the buffalo upgrade, nobody no longer wanted to be the last to have AI on his carabao. She added that no less than 50 buffalo upgrades must have been produced in their barangay thus far.

Macrino Turingan, 44, likewise sold his two buffalo upgrades for P27,300 because he needed money to build a house, as their first house was blown by a strong typhoon.

In the town of Solana, 21 members of the Andarayan Cataran Lanna Dairy Cooperative now have 38 mestizo (50 percent Philippine carabao x 50 percent Murrah buffalo) dams that are giving them substantial income from the sale of male calves, milk or both.

One of them is Dante Saquing of Andarayan South whose female buffalo upgrade has been giving substantial income after giving birth to a female calf. On the average, he collected five liters (15 bottles) of milk a day, which was sold to his neighbors. A bottle filled with carabao milk costs P12, hence Dante earned P180 a day, P5,400 a month or P21, 600 in four months. When sold at the town market, a bottle costs P15.

In Andarayan, North Solana, Pablo Ubina has produced 10 upgrades through AI since 1997. He was the first to adopt AI in Andarayan and has been a consistent client of Ogie Canseran, the village-based AI technician. He sold an upgraded calf together with its native mother for 15,000 in February 2004.

In Brgy. Sampaguita, Solana where there are 31 AI adopters, farmers have learned that indeed there’s money in upgrades. For instance, someone offered to buy the male calf of his four year old buffalo upgrade for P20,000. However, his parents want the calf to grow until it can be sold for P30,000.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved