DILIMAN, Quezon City—Agriculture plays a critical role in human nutrition, especially for children during their early stages of development, and one of the industries that contribute to its growth is dairy production.
At present, dairy farmers are key players in the national initiative to fight hunger and undernutrition among children. Milk, in particular, is considered a “complete food” because it contains essential nutrients and is high in calcium and other vitamins and minerals.
The National Dairy Authority (NDA) is one of the agencies under the Department of Agriculture that serves as a partner of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Education (DepED) in the nationwide implementation of the Milk Feeding Program. This is in line with Republic Act No. 11037 or the "Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act" which was approved in 2018.
"The farmers supported by the NDA are located all over the Philippines and most of their [milk] supply is allotted for the Milk Feeding Program. In fact, when the pandemic started, the program became their market while coffee shops, malls, and other food establishments were closed," NDA Milk Feeding Program Officer Joshua Lomuntad said in an interview on “Agri Asenso” on DZRH.
Beneficiaries of the Milk Feeding Program are daycare children and public school students from Kinder to Grade 6. The target number of students and schools are determined every year by the DSWD and DepEd, according to Lomuntad.
Meanwhile, NDA-assisted dairy farms are located in Central Luzon, South Luzon, Bicol, Davao Region, as well as Iloilo, Aklan, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro, and Sarangani. At the same time, dairy goat farms supported by the agency can be found in Samar and Leyte.
“Private individuals or groups that are interested in dairy may submit letters of intent if they want to start their own dairy farm or processing plant, or both,” Lomuntad expressed.
The Milk Feeding Program was initially launched by NDA in 1995, in partnership with local government units, non-government organizations, and other government agencies. This year, the program is set to resume in September.
Lomuntad’s interview about the Milk Feeding Program aired last July 23. This episode is available for streaming at https://www.facebook.com/ATIinteractive/videos/284823917185282.