NDA going headstrong amid COVID-19 pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic assaults the very fabric of our society and poses a grave threat to lives, employees of the National Dairy Authority (NDA) willingly opted to serve without prejudice to the risks involved. Unfazed by the difficulties and challenges of border controls, varied interpretation of quarantine guidelines, discriminations, and the risk of contracting the disease itself, NDA personnel, both in the technical and administrative areas, continued to perform their duties. This perseverance, in effect, silently managed to cushion the impact of the pandemic to the local dairy industry.
During the height of the COVID-19 community quarantine in Leyte and Southern Leyte provinces, the NDA Visayas Department facilitated the arrival of 57 head of pregnant heifers at Liloan Ferry Terminal, Southern, Leyte on March 17, 2020. These were immediately distributed on the wee hours of the night and early morning on the next day to JS Dairy Farm (25 head) in Brgy. Juaton, Ormoc City; Rodriguez Farm (12 head) in Brgy Puertobello, Merida, and; Blanco Farm in Brgy. Lemon, Capoocan, all in Leyte province.
However, it is not only in the technical services where NDA had its hands full. Assistance was also made available to help dairy farmers stay afloat during the period of crisis. Through the milk distribution program dubbed as “We Drink Milk as One”, some 3,768 liters of milk worth P345,816.00 were bought from the farmers and delivered to nine (9) government hospitals in the provinces of Iloilo and Aklan benefiting a total of 634 medical frontline workers:
1. Western Visayas Medical Center – 80 beneficiaries
2. WVSU Medical Center – 75 beneficiaries
3. Iloilo Provincial Hospital – 100 beneficiaries
4. Ibajay District Hospital – 50 beneficiaries
5. Makato Municipal Hospital – 38 beneficiaries
6. Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Provincial Hospital – 95 beneficiaries
7. Barotac Viejo District Hospital – 32 beneficiaries
8. Jesus M. Colmenares District Hospital – 32 beneficiaries
9. Sara District Hospital – 32 beneficiaries
Said program was launched in the Visayas Region on April 4, 2020 tapping NDA-assisted farms namely Orchard Valley, Inc., Primas Cows Milk, and Silagon MPC, Inc./Champs Integrated Farm as the suppliers of milk.
Meanwhile, assistance in the form of feeds distribution was also given to recipients of new batch of imported dairy cattle which were delivered when border controls relaxed a bit on May 8, 2020.
When stringent quarantine controls were imposed at the height of the pandemic, most dairy farms suffered major setbacks when some key farm personnel failed to report for work. Learning from this experience, a program for capacity building to transition farms to “new normal” was initiated. With an aim to embed a “generalist” competency among farmworkers on all aspects of dairy production where anybody can handle anyone’s job at the farm, in-house training on Milking, Milk Quality Assurance, and Calves Management was conducted at Orchard Valley Farm on May 14-15, 2020.
Finally, the NDA, through its Visayas Department, provided assistance to its partner dairy farms including Orchard Valley, Inc., and Primas Cows Milk during the conduct of their own milk donation drive in Iloilo City and Ibajay, Aklan, respectively.