“The message that we would want to share through this Wagyu project is in fulfilling interventions for farmers in the whole value chain process. There is a need to harmonize financial and physical resources to achieve a wholistic development.”

“Hindi kailangan ang malaking pondo to make a project successful. You only need to strategize. Kung gusto, laging may paraan. Walang imposible. Nasa Dios ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa, na kay Mayor ang Maniobra.”

Former Piddig Mayor Eduardo Guillen in the province of Ilocos Norte made these remarks in an exclusive interview with DA communicators about the town’s existing Wagyu Cross Breed Production project at the Municipal Hall recently when he was asked about how his leadership would able to pull off another remarkable project that supports the region’s livestock industry.

Gaining more public interest with the production of Brahman breed of cattle in the area that has been perceived to provide another sustainable livelihood for Piddig farmers, the Wagyu project in Piddig is another initiative of ex-Mayor Guillen to address poverty incidence in Piddig.

A project in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Animal Industry and the Regional Field Office in Ilocos, the Wagyu Cross Breed Production begun sometime in September of 2021 and is among the many initiatives of the LGU-Piddig to increase farmers’ income and provide additional source of livelihood other than crop production.

Involving around 3,000 individual-farmer as partners, the project focuses on the production of Wagyu calf via artificial insemination using the semen requested by Piddig from the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) in Quezon City.

Obtaining an initial 100 semen under DA-BAI’s National Beef Cattle Research & Development Center, and a succeeding 500 semen given to the LGU through the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist, the project has now produced a total of 28 calves under the care and management of the farmer-partners.

The DA-RFO I, through the Livestock Banner Program has also provided AI paraphernalias like straw sheaths, gloves, drugs and biologics , vitamins and hormone inducers.

Assuring sustainability for the project according to Ex-mayor Guillen is the ready market thru the Adelaide River Farm from which the LGU-Piddig has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the marketing if the Wagyu. As part of the MOA, the Adelaide River Farm will serve as the marketing outlet of the wagyu calves being produced aside from providing technical assistance to the farmer-cooperators thru the Veterinarian that they shared who shall supervise the care and management of the wagyu calves. The Adelaide River Farm is a Manila-based meat depot which shall absorb the wagyu calves produced at a price of 25% higher than the prevailing price in the market.

For eight months from the time of birth, the farmer-cooperator have to sell their calves and they may able to have their cows artificially inseminated again. However, in case where the farmer-cooperator would opt to take care of the animals especially if the offspring is a female calf, Ex-mayor Guillen encouraged the cooperators to observe the agreements so they may be able to provide the needed supply of the market making the project more sustainable.

Putting effort in considering all aspects in the value chain process of the project and having inspired by the success of the existing Piddig coffee convergence project that the municipality had been known, Guillen has high hopes in making the project a model for a successful livestock enterprise in the entire province of Ilocos Norte.

Keen on expanding the project and ensure a higher profit where they have to fatten first before selling to Adelaide, the LGU-Piddig has entered into a MOA with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a 100-hectare idle land in the municipality that would serve as pasture area for the animals to be fattened.

Finding the need for a sweeper bull, a good breeder to increase the success rate of producing Wagyu calves and also considering to propose an embryo transfer instead of artificial insemination to upgrade the breed of the animals being raised into Brahman, Guillen is in constant coordination with BAI.

Seeking for the support of the Local Chief Executives in the province for a project expansion, Guillen is also hopeful on the full support of Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc to extend partnership for the said livestock enterprise.

Meanwhile, revealing further his plans to maximize the benefit of an available market for Wagyu, Guillen has recommended that the LGU fund under the RA 7171 shall be optimized to purchase cattle that shall be distributed to farmers to increase the number of animals for AI production.
Sharing his great vision for the project, Ex-Mayor Guillen intends to discuss with the DA-NMIS or the National Meat Inspection Service for the value adding of the produce with the establishment of an AA slaughterhouse in Piddig.

Indeed, even when not in position as Chief Executive, Ex-Mayor Guillen continue to advocate good governance and benefitting from his inspiring leadership are the Piddiguenos who bear witness to a kind of service that they truly deserve. The Wagyu project is but one of many worthwhile projects of Piddig that sprung out of a very enterprising wisdom of Guillen providing his townmates especially the farmers, simple solution to their struggles on low productivity and income.

Having a thorough understanding on the problem and finding simple solutions using β€œcommon sense” as he described, he expressed his high hopes in agriculture.

β€œGiving farmers the buying power and not merely as producers who shall enjoy being consumer of the goods and services they deserve makes a difference. The only way to do that is to pull them up from the poverty threshold.”, ex-Mayor Guillen said.

To date, the poverty threshold in Piddig based on the Philippine Statistics Data is 5.59 percent way lower than the 9% poverty threshold set by the current administration for the country which is now at 23.7 percent.

With the implementation of the Wagyu Cross-Breed project in Piddig and the high possibility of area expansion in Ilocos Norte and some other parts of the country, the problem on food security can certainly be addressed.###