/ 22 April 2022

THE DEPARTMENT of Education assured the local dairy industry that the locally produced milk remains its top choice for its school-based feeding program.

This was DepEd’s response to the letter of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. and Dairy Confederation of the Philippines alleging that DepEd asked the National Dairy Authority and Philippine Carabao Center to sign a certification that local dairy farmers cannot supply the milk to allow the entry of foreign multinational dairy companies.

It said that the claim seems to make it appear that DepEd was influencing the NDA and the PCC to sign the said certification and that the intention of the certification was to “dislodge local dairy farmers [from] the GAA budget 2022.”

On the contrary, DepEd said that it directed its field offices to prioritize locally produced milk and procure commercial milk only when local milk is not readily available. It added that its implementation of the SBFP espouses the sourcing of milk from the local dairy farmers, consistent with RA 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.”

DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua reported that for the last two years, the agency sourced 80 percent of fresh milk and other milk-based products from the local cooperatives and enterprises and purchased only 20 percent commercial milk in areas where the partners of the NDA and the PCC cannot supply the milk requirement.

“With big investments for milk feeding, we hope that the local dairy industry, together with the government agencies overseeing them, will respond to the challenges of program implementation including satisfying volume of production, product quality and certification, packaging, business processes, and government procurement. SBFP has implementation timeline and fund validity based on the provisions of GAA, and we cannot delay the needed milk for the nutrition of our learners,” Pascua said.

“We fully understand the plight of our local dairy industry. We thank them for their efforts in producing and supplying quality milk products for SBFP and we are committed to continue partnering with them, despite the challenges we are facing,” he added.