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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Philippines: After a three-year hiatus, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers have returned to the milieu to assess and enhance the efficiency of dairy farming.

Shohei Kudo, a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer dispatched to a milk processing plant owned by a dairy farming cooperative in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Visayas, is seen in Makati City, Tokyo, on May 8. (Mainichi/Kohei Numata)Volunteer projects by the JICA Overseas Cooperation Volunteers of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are showing signs of activity again. The Philippines had been forced to suspend dispatch for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, but according to Masakazu Fukui, planning researcher at the JICA Philippines office, six out of seven requests (projects) from the Philippines were dispatched in the spring of 2022. Two people will be dispatched in June this year, and four people will be dispatched from December to January next year. Furthermore, there are currently 17 applications for the fall of 2022, and 30 applications for the spring of 2023, which will begin in May. This time, we asked Shohei Kudo, 30, a member of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), who returned to the Philippines for the first time in three years after being forced to temporarily return to Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Interviewed by Kohei Numata)
―What are the activities in the ratio?
Assigned to a milk processing plant owned by a dairy cooperative in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Visayas region. It is an organization that accepts raw milk milked by local farmers and conducts quality inspections, etc., but it seems that inspections are not fulfilling their role, so I would like to make an effort to establish an inspection system. It also provides guidance for improving productivity in dairy farms. Like humans, cows do not produce milk until they give birth. I would like to rationalize the breeding cycle, which is important in dairy farm management, by utilizing my knowledge of artificial insemination, and to increase the amount of milk.
We hope to assist in the development of new products as well. At the moment, we are envisioning ice cream mix, which is the raw material for soft serve ice cream. I would like to consider whether it can be distributed to cafes.

―Why did you join the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers?
In my experience of livestock farming, I found that most of the plants in Japan had similar specifications, busy workers, and an environment that emphasized efficiency and labor saving. I wanted to see with my own eyes the roots of dairy farming before it was mechanized in other countries.

-History so far
After graduating from high school, he went on to study animal husbandry at Hokkaido University of Agriculture because he liked animals. After graduating, he worked at dairy farms in Hokkaido, Nagano, and Fukui, gaining experience in all aspects of dairy farming.
As a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer, he was once dispatched to the same assignment in 2020, but returned to Japan due to the effects of the corona disaster. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he worked for a Japanese dairy processing company and a dairy equipment manufacturer.

―What do you think of ratio milk?
I don’t really like the milk here. I stopped drinking after seeing the production site.

―How do you see the Philippine milk industry?
The milk self-sufficiency rate is 1-2%, and it is heavily dependent on imports. It is possible that this is due to the fact that the means of transportation is inadequate. In Japan, it is transported by refrigeration, while by ratio, it is transported by freezing, but the ingredients change. Being an island country, it seems difficult to transport between islands while maintaining freshness and quality. In addition, the cleaning of the container is insufficient, and there seems to be a problem in terms of hygiene.
Securing bait seems to be difficult. In Japan, pasture grass that serves as food is harvested and stored from spring to summer. I hear that there is a shortage of grass in the Philippines, especially during the dry season. In addition, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, etc., it is difficult to obtain fertilizer that promotes the growth of grass, and the harsh situation continues.

―What are the difficulties of dairy farming?
little rest. Of course, there is a dairy helper system that takes care of the ranch work, but as costs increase, there are cases where people who are unfamiliar with handling cattle are dispatched, causing problems.
What is realistic is to reduce the number of cows and shorten the working time. Although my income will decrease, I believe that maintaining a balance between physical strength and economics will lead to sustainability.

―How do you want to make use of your past experiences?
It would be great if we could cooperate in a wide range of areas, such as cow breeding management, dairy product processing, and maintenance and installation of milking equipment.Non-mechanized, manual-dominant industry
On the other hand, while seemingly inefficient, it makes sense that they are maximizing the resources they have. I find it difficult to change anything from there. It would be great if we could visualize the issues with that aspect in mind.

―What do you aim to achieve during the dispatch period?
It’s a place where you can take an approach that returns profits to the amount that dairy farmers move to improve production.

―Anxiety about coming to the Philippines
I feel uneasy about the language barrier, although it is not about my daily life. Some local dairy farmers do not understand English. I feel the need to learn the local language.

―What is your outlook after the dispatch?
I haven’t decided on anything in particular, but I would like to make use of my past two years of livestock farming experience in society.

Kudo Shohei Born in 1992, from Aomori Prefecture. After graduating from Hokkaido University of Agriculture in 2012, he worked at dairy farms in Hokkaido, Nagano, and Fukui. He applied for the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers in 2019, and although he was appointed in 2020, he returned to Japan due to the corona disaster. He will be re-dispatched to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental as a member of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers for the first time in three years.


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