Flood-stricken duck raisers get back on their feet

BENEFICIARIES of ‘Padayon Gihapon Ta, Partner’ (Let’s Keep Going, Partner) receive duck feeds from Pilmico Animal Nutrition Corporation, Panabo Bluz and Chemar Marketing. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF KENNETH JASHER REFUERZO JINAYON

Weather was challenging for agricultural businesses in Mindanao the past few months as heavy rains triggered floods and landslides that damaged crops and livestock. The disasters, however, also sparked the bayanihan spirit crucial to the recovery of affected enterprises.

Pilmico Animal Nutrition Corporation held a two-day recovery assistance program for flood-stricken duck raisers in Carmen, Davao del Norte last 26 to 27 February.

The flour and feed manufacturer, a subsidiary of the Aboitiz Group, used its scheduled “Agripost Conference” — held yearly to celebrate and recognize the top-performing local retailers in various parts of the country — to distribute bags of duck feeds, vet kits, and animal nutrition supplements to 175 affected duck raisers of the town.

Pilmico’s partner distributors in the area, namely Panabo Bluz and Chemar Marketing, redirected their resources to ”Padayon Gihapon Ta, Partner” (Let’s Keep Going, Partner). On the first day of the aid drive, volunteers provided veterinary services to livestock raisers and distributed bags of Avemax duck feed.

Thriving industry

Carmen has a thriving duck raising industry as the livelihood supports many locals.

Sa amin, wala naman kaming ibang hinahangad, (duck) farming lang talaga para makatulong sa pamilya, pangalawa sa community,” (For us, we don’t want anything else, just farming to help the family and, secondly, the community.) Pilmico distributor Marvin Jinayon says.

The Department of Agriculture’s 2019 Natatanging Small Animal Raiser awardee points out the versatility of the business.

Ang ducks malaking tulong talaga sa amin. Marami kasi yung mapapuntahan sa production. Nagmamaalat, nagbabalut, para umunlad yung isang pamilya.” (The ducks are a big help to us. Production can go to making salted eggs and balut, helping the family to progress.)

While admitting that many duck farmers also suffer losses, Jinayon says they help other raisers avoid loss by advising them and sharing good business practices.

Restoring production

Jinayon narrates how the weather disturbances has interrupted their operations.

Dumating ‘yung ulan na ilang araw…mga lima, anim. Tumaas ‘yung tubig na nadagdagan pa ng lakas ng daloy ng tubig galing sa bukid, kaya di nila naagapan yung itik nila na naanod. Meron mang naiwan, pero parang nabulabog na yung production,” (It rained for five to six days. Water rose and flooded farms, washing away the ducks. Some survived but production was already disrupted.) he tells the DAILY TRIBUNE, adding that he lost approximately 2,000 heads of ducks from the flashflood.

Kumikita pa sila, pero ngayon, parang nagsimula uli para bumalik yung production nila,” (They are still making money, but now they are trying to restore their production.) the 45-year-old owner of Marvin’s Balut Processor says.

The Pilmico recovery assistance program was important particularly to duck raisers who totally lost their capacity to earn.

Nireresolba namin ‘yung mga existing itik nila. At least man lang makatawid at makaabot doon sa breakeven period para kumita sila uli. Parang sinasalba lang namin yung mga naiwan na itik,” (We address their remaining ducks so at least they can reach breakeven period and start earning again. It’s like rescuing the remaining ducks), according to Jinayon.

Back of their feet

Elaine Muescan used to raise 650 ducks but switched to duck eggs trading. She reveals that besides the flood, duck raisers in Carmen have also been affected by El Niño which dried up pasture and limited sources of water, which are also vital to the business.

“The most recent, and perhaps the most disastrous, was the recent flash flood. The flood caused grave damage, such as the displacement or loss of ducks (that) were swept away. It is also attributed to the decline in the production of eggs. In such a manner, it basically caused a decline or loss of income for the raisers as they rely on the sales of their egg product for income,” she explains.

Aside from rice and banana farming, duck raising is a major alternative source of income for Carmen farmers.

“Carmen prides itself (on being) the balut capital in the Davao region. Hence, the duck-raising industry plays a very vital role in the sustainable growth and development of its agri-tourism programs,” Muescan says.

“With regards to Pilmico’s assistance to the farmer after the flood, Pilmico provided much-needed aftercare such as disinfection of poultry and makeshift duck houses,” she says.

Muescan adds that the Aboitiz Group unit also provided free vitamins and duck layer feeds to the most affected duck raisers. 

“However, even before the flooding, Pilmico has actively provided technical assistance to the raisers through their field technicians. In addition, duck raising training and seminars were also conducted. Pilmico’s recovery assistance program basically provided the Carmen duck raisers much-needed relief in providing feed sustenance to their duck growers and layers,” says Muescan.

“Their recovery program would be very beneficial to all duck raisers, to help them get back on their feet, especially when their rice farms are heavily damaged,” she adds.