Addressing the impact of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) launched its initiative on “Manok at Itlog sa Pamayanan [Chicken and Egg to the Community].”
This project is one of the subcomponents of “Pagkain at Kabuhayan” under the Good Agri-Aqua Livelihood Initiatives toward National Goals-PCAARRD (Galing-PCAARRD) Kontra Covid-19 program that was launched in April.
The project aims to provide communities affected by the pandemic with livelihood options through raising duck, native chicken and commercial broilers and layers.
Duck eggs, day-old ducklings
One of the projects under this subcomponent is the “Distribution of Duck Eggs and Day-old Ducklings” from DOST-funded projects.
Implemented in Regions 3, 4A, 6, 9, 11 and 12, the project dovetails with an ongoing DOST-funded program called “Itik for Life.”
The project gives duck farmers access to the new duck breed, ItikPinas, and enable them to venture on duck-egg production and marketing.
This venture further aims to commercialize the breed and make quality ItikPinas ducklings and egg products available in the market.
The ItikPinas lines are strains of native egg-laying ducks that are genetically superior to ducks from Pateros, Rizal, because they were developed through years of breeding and selection by a research project funded and monitored by DOST-PCAARRD.
Participating agencies in the program are the Central Luzon State University, the Bureau of Animal Industry-National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center, West Visayas State University, Western Mindanao State University, Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 11, and Sultan Kudarat State University (SKSU).
Duck eggs produced from DOST-funded projects to augment food supply and income during the pandemic were continuously inventoried and packed by the project team from their institutional farms for distribution to affected communities and frontliners.
Selected barangays in the municipalities of Muñoz and San Jose, Nueva Ecija; and in Tiaong, Quezon (in Luzon); Pavia, Ajuy, Jaro, Badiangan, and Calinog, Iloilo (in Visayas); San Ramon in Zamboanga City; Tugbok in Davao City; Bagumbayan in Sultan Kudarat: and Surallah in South Cotabato (in Mindanao) benefited from the duck-egg distribution.
A total of 26,940 eggs that were generated by farmers and from institutional flocks in the six regions were distributed through the program.
These were valued at P5.30 to P6.10 per egg. Although lower by P1.25 to P1.50 from the prevailing market price, the farmers willingly gave their produce to the project team to be donated to frontliners and needy communities.
Some benevolent farmers in Surallah, South Cotabato, even gave their eggs for free to the project as their way of showing support and appreciation to frontliners in their communities.
Duck raising as a steady source of income
Violeta and Carmelo Tamanal, farmer cooperators from Barangay Daguma, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat, expressed their worries when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was declared on March 15.
“I was concerned that we will lose our income due to Covid-19. How will we survive?” said Carmelo in Filipino. Violeta agreed, adding that duck raising is their only source of income. Filipinos shared the same sentiment during the ECQ.
However, Itik for Life farmer cooperators have been trained on proper duck raising by the project leaders before they were given ducklings.
According to Michael John Benavidez, Itik for Life Coordinator in Region 12 and a member of the faculty of the SKSU, the Tamanals were among the 10 farmers selected at the start of the program in 2017.
They were trained on duck raising and egg production and were given 300 female and 33 male ducklings.
“ItikPinas was a huge help for us to earn even during ECQ. The price of duck eggs dropped during ECQ, but we had funds for our daily needs,” Carmelo said in Filipino.
Meanwhile, Ella Somblingo, a farmer cooperator from Zamboanga City, said her family earns P2,685 a day or P80,550 a month by producing balut (fertilized egg embryo) and salted eggs which they sell to their retail vendors.
ItikPinas also helped Regie Formacion, farmer cooperator in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, provide for his family’s daily needs. He said he was thankful that amid the pandemic, he can still earn through duck raising.
Continuing the project in the new normal
When the general community quarantine is lifted, the duck eggs and day-old ducklings distribution project will shift to distribution of day-old ducklings to communities to serve as source of livelihood and help ease their transition to the new normal.
Qualified farmers or at least 10 families per region will be selected from the six implementing regions of the project and will be given ducklings to start or augment their duck raising and egg production business. Anna Marie P. Alo and Rose Anne M. Aya/S&T Media Services