June Flores blooms in dairying

June is a proud mother and owner of Adeline’s Dairy Farm and Buffalo Products, the very first of its kind in San Manuel, Tarlac City.

With no formal education or training on dairy farming, June Flores took a leap of faith and entered into dairying, dearly holding onto nothing but hope.

At a young age, June cherished a simple and peaceful farm life. Growing up, she would frequently reminisce their family gatherings like those spent over sumptuous breakfast of hot steamed rice poured with fresh carabao’s milk and dried fish. Those fond memories instilled in her heart a dream of having her own farm.

She was able to realize that dream after she gave birth to her only child Adeline. At 43, she is a proud mother and owner of Adeline’s Dairy Farm and Buffalo Products, the very first of its kind in San Manuel, Tarlac City.

June is a chemical engineer by profession but despite her success, she has never forgotten to look back to how and where she started.

“I still mingle and talk with our local farmers. During those conversations with them, I realized how seriously bad are the issues surrounding our country’s pursuit of food security. I thought I should contribute in any way I can to be part of the solution. In this way, I might be able to help many farmers, like those from my hometown, have a better life in the countryside. To do this, I am currently teaching and encouraging other farmers to consider dairying as another source of income,” shared June.

Although she initially struggled when starting the dairy farm, June’s determination has eventually made a name for Adeline’s Dairy Farm as a model carabao-based enterprise in Tarlac. Her plans to prosper the farm goes beyond production as she is also planning to establish it as a training center or learning site for buffalo production.

She has been coordinating with the City Veterinary Office for training and information campaigns that could help her and other interested farmers in her community.

In 2017, she bought a farm lot and started traditional farming. This did not pan out well for her as their first harvest was sold at barely break even.  This pushed her to find other means of livelihood and decided to venture into dairy farming.

“We started with nothing. We relied solely on Google and YouTube. From two native carabaos as our startup stock, we bought additional 14 head of Murrah buffaloes. We were at first overwhelmed and challenged because we had to work out forage, feeding and health management,” said June.

She soon found her way to groups who have the same interest in buffalo raising or carabao farming through Facebook and immersed herself on YouTube how-to videos. In her mind, giving up is not an option and always found a way to keep moving forward with her venture.     

In October 2019, she started with product development. She created her brand name Adeline’s Fresh Buffalo Milk Products.

They usually produce 20 to 30 bottles of fresh carabao’s milk for students. But since the pandemic, she had to find another way to sell her products with the absence of face-to-face classes.

June said she learned a valuable lesson from what happened: “Do not focus on just one market. During the lockdown because of the pandemic, our problem was where to bring our milk to. Instead of waiting for the milk to get spoiled, we decided to just supply it to our frontliners, to the orphanage and home for special children,” shared June.

Also during this time, June resorted to the internet to sell her products. She was able to market her products through online selling. It turned out that their biggest sales were during the lockdown. At one point, she couldn’t meet the demand for her products so she had to source out from other dairy farmers in nearby provinces such as Richard Reyes of Pampanga and Chairman Lodivico Guieb, Sr. of Guimba, Nueva Ecija.

To meet the sudden spike in demand for Adeline’s Fresh Buffalo Milk Products, June bought another 16 head of pure Murrah buffaloes from Zambales. Most of these were pregnant but were ill managed causing their death after giving birth.

During this crisis, she met Dr. Marvin Villanueva and Erwin Encarnacion from DA-Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) who helped rehabilitate the health of her buffaloes. She was also consistently communicating with the Carabao-based Enterprise Development (CBED) team of the agency for technical support and trainings on genetic Improvement, herd management, and product development.

“I hope more farmers would engage in dairy farming. They should take this chance as this is a good time to also benefit from related projects that are carried out by the Tarlac City Veterinary Office. The DA-PCC also offers learning modalities such as the webinar series that are available online, which can be very helpful to first-time buffalo raisers like I once was,” June said in high hopes.

Aside from her personal pursuits, June also wants to make Adeline’s Dairy Farm an instrument to help her farm workers have better lives. She said she wants them to grow with the farm. According to her, this is her way of repaying their hard work.

At present, Adeline’s Dairy Farm is home to 43 buffaloes; one is a junior bull from DA-PCC under its bull loan program; 19 are calves and some were distributed to nearby Tarlac; and eight are currently milking producing 40 to 50 liters of milk daily.

Adeline’s chocomilk, pasteurized milk, kesong-puti and yoghurt are currently available and sold in Tarlac, Laguna, Metro Manila, Zambales and select areas in Mindanao.     

With all the challenges that she was able to overcome, Adeline said her being a woman is what made her enduring and resilient. Women, she deeply believes, play a very important role in the dairy industry because of their nurturing spirit.

“Women are natural multi-taskers and are more sensitive and meticulous.  As for myself, I find joy in every role that I play in this life. I think one complements the other. With the unfailing support and inspiration of my family, I am enabled and am able to do so much more,” June said.