MANILA, Feb 15 (Mabuhay) — The country is looking at a USD500-million worth of integrated dairy facility after sealing a partnership with Baladna Qatar Public Shareholding Company (QPSC).

The project can increase local milk production by 120 million liters from the current 26.71 million liters to address local demand and decrease imports, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday.

“The investments will be able to generate 2,000 new jobs during the initial phase of its first full year of operations, providing significant opportunities for domestic employment,” Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

DA shared details of the deal, signed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on February 11 with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Baladna QPSC independent board member Aidan Tynan.

Lopez also graced the Dubai World Expo, where he delivered a message during the Philippines’ National Day official ceremony.

Baladna QPSC is into raising livestock and the production of dairy products, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and labneh (cheese made from strained yogurt), as well as animal fertilizers.

The company is Qatar’s largest locally owned food and dairy producer, supplying over 95 percent of the country’s fresh dairy products.

The firm owns more than 24,000 Holstein cows on its 2.6 million square-meter facility with 40 state-of-the-art barns, has a daily capacity of producing up to 450 tons of fresh milk and juice products on a daily basis, and has more than 1,650 employees.

The Holstein breed that originated in the Netherlands is known for high milk production but has less butterfat and protein based on percentage in milk compared to other breeds.

Dar said the Qatar firm will support the Philippine government to level the playing field and foster domestic dairy production.

“DA has already identified five possible locations for the Baladna project and will welcome the Baladna team in the next few weeks for the site visits,” Dar said. (MNS)

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