By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LIGAO CITY, July 8 (PNA) — Noting the number of the farmers’ long-time best friends and partners in planting, the carabaos has been diminishing in the country for the last two decades, an Albay lawmaker is pushing for the creation of a carabao center in Bicol to revive the carabao industry.
Rep. Fernando V. Gonzalez of Albay’s 3rd congressional district, noted that the farmers’ most reliable best friends and faithful partners in food production are rapidly declining due to shift to mechanization and unabated butchering for carabeef.
Amid this reality, Gonzalez filed a bill at the House of Representatives seeking to create a carabao center in Ligao City, amending enacted Republic Act 7307, or the Philippine Carabao Act of 1992, in an effort to bring back the glory of the carabao industry in the country.
A businessman and farmer by profession before joining politics, he expressed apprehension on the vanishing population of carabao, considered as the most hardworking partners of farmers in farming, to sustain the country’s high demand for food production following its increasing population and provide for the nutritional needs of the Filipinos.
Gonzalez said the Philippine Carabao Act of 1992 created 13 carabao centers throughout the country but not one of them was put up in Bicol Region to propagate, conserve and promote the carabao industry here.
“It is hoped that with the enactment of this amendatory law, the Bicol Region shall be assured of the continued conservation, propagation and promotion of the carabao as farmers’ best friend. Breeding of water buffalo as a source of high protein milk is highly needed as draft animal power and hide to benefit rural farmers,” the Albay solon said.
The carabao population in the country is rapidly diminishing following the high demand for carabeef and even aggravated by the mechanized farming scheme.
“The introduction of mechanized farming in the country contributed to deteriorating population of carabao in the countryside and threatened to extinct the animal in the coming decades if government will not take action to revive the carabao industry,” Ernesto Serrano, 60, a local farmer in Legazpi City, said.
Serrano said modernizing agriculture prompted countryside farmers to rely on technology instead of employing carabao power, except for marginalized farmers here.
“Even with technology-driven farming scheme we’re hoping that the carabao industry will be revived because this animal is the country’s pride as our number one partner in farming,” Serrano said.
The Philippine Carabao Development Program is now on its 22nd year of operation since the enactment of Republic Act 7307, or the Philippine Carabao Act of 1992.
The law seeks to conserve, propagate and promote the Philippine carabao as a source of draft animal power, meat, milk and hide, and to increase the population of the carabao to keep pace with the country’s ballooning population.
As of Jan. 1, according to Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the total carabao inventory in the country was 2.85 million heads.
This was 0.26-percent lower than last year’s level.
Inventories of carabao from backyard and commercial farms increased by 0.25 percent and 3.81 percent, respectively.
The inventory in backyard farms accounted for 99.58 percent of the total carabao population.
Historically, Filipinos see carabaos as faithful partners in life.
Aside from helping farmers plow the fields, this animal is the country’s source of transportation in far-flung areas.
During the Spanish colonial period, the natives worked on the fields to produce quantities of rice, sugar and other cash crops that were exported throughout the 19th century.
The farmers rely on the carabao’s hard work and patience to get the job done throughout the day, aside from being a source of milk.
The carabao has been the constant companion and it has taken a great role in shaping the country’s history, according to Gonzalez. (PNA)