LOS BAÑOS, Laguna , Philippines — Sen. Cynthia Villar has extolled Asian scientists and research administrators for closing ranks to accelerate the growth of the region's buffalo (carabao)-based industry.
Addressing the Oct. 26-28 international conference on Carabao-based Enterprise Development held in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, Villar said the forum would "level up the discussion on the continued growth and development of the carabao industry, all the allied industries, and most especially the farmers and other stakeholders."
The scientific forum was held at the Philippine Carabao Center under the joint auspices of PCC and the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) based here.
The conference, said SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr., was part of the PCC-funded, SEARCA-implemented "Building Capacity and Strengthening Partnership for Carabao Development Program."
Through its various programs and activities, Saguiguit said, SEARCA would be able to help smallholder farmers, including livestock raisers, "to competitively participate and benefit from the growing agricultural food markets."
About 200 animal scientists and researchers of R&D institutions and members of academe from various parts of Asia attended the global forum. The assembly was expected to refine programs and initiatives that benefit carabao farmers in the Philippines and other Asian countries.
Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food, also lauded the conference for emphasizing the value of the water buffalo as a source of livelihood and food for smallholder farmers. Her message at the conference was delivered by a staff member of her Senate committee.
This is one of the main goals of PCC when it implemented the Carabao-based Enterprise Development to help smallholder farmers and carabao owners. At present, 65 percent of the country's livestock raisers are small backyard farmers.
Farming families, the senator further stressed, are the ones who will ensure a food-secure future for the fast-expanding global population.
"We need to support them," Villar said.