The story of Juana: ‘Carabao raising is for everyone’

“Women are definitely not second-class players when it comes to buffalo dairying. We should not let our limitations hinder us from scoring our own success.” -Emily Velasco 2017 Modelong Juana sa Kalabawan (Photo by Rowena Bumanlag)

It has been years since Emily Velasco, 56, of Villa Joson, San Jose City, started her venture in carabao dairying. Her diligence and perseverance earned her the award “Modelong Juana sa Kalabawan” in 2017 from DA-PCC—proving that carapreneurship can be done by anyone and that not gender or anything can intervene once you commit to it.

Velasco engaged in carabao dairying so she could augment her family’s income. She joined the Simula ng Panibagong Bukas Producers Cooperative (SIPBUPCO) where she served as secretary for four years. She was one of the first few members who were entrusted with dairy buffaloes under the PCC’s 25-Dairy Cow Module. Back then, she was the lone female dairy farmer of SIPBUPCO.

In 2012, Velasco rose to become one of the cooperative’s Board of Directors. When SIPBUPCO became a multi-purpose cooperative, she straight away engaged in milk collection. 

At present, she has eight carabaos and three of these are from PCC.

Tucked away in the outskirts of San Jose town, Velasco owns a parcel of land where she had put up a shelter for her animals. She also planted napier grass and other feedstuff there.

She and her husband, who is a full-time employee in San Jose City, work together in their farm. The highest daily income they were able to earn is Php1,000 for 10 liters of carabao’s milk, which they sold for Php60 per liter.

According to Velasco, the amount is sufficient for their family’s daily needs and is actually even greater than her husband’s take-home pay.  This becomes her constant drive to make it good and continuously improve her dairy buffalo enterprise while taking care of her family.

Aside from milking her buffaloes, Velasco additionally earns from them in other means.

“Our buffaloes greatly helped us fund our eldest son’s education by selling the males whenever there was an urgent need for school expenses. My son is now a licensed civil engineer,” she proudly shared.

Another source of income for Velasco is vermicomposting. The technology makes use of carabao manure and African Night Crawlers to produce organic fertilizer called “vermicompost”.  Bimonthly, she collects about 10 sacks of fertilizer from the vermicompost pit, which earns her Php2,500.

She acquired her knowledge on vermicomposting at the Farmer Livestock School on Dairy Buffalo Production (FLS-DBP), which she attended in 2016. The FLS-DBP is a learning platform being facilitated by PCC, where farmers are presented with and taught of technology options.

“I believe that women have an advantage in the dairy business because of our caring nature. If your animals are well taken care of, you will reap the benefits of your hard work,” Velasco stated.

In the future, Velasco dreams of raising more carabaos and processing dairy products. She said this dream is slowly realized as she recently attended, with the other cooperative members, a training on processing dairy products.