Millard duck raising now a fad in Maguindanao PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 June 2014 13:59

Central Mindanao’s “people of the flooded plains” are aiming to produce at least two million Mallard ducks by 2016 from the offspring of imported fowls being distributed free by the provincial government since early this year.

The moniker “people of the flooded plains” is both the historical and geographical identity of the ethnic Maguindanaons that dwell in swampy, low-lying towns along portions of the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, at the tri-boundary of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

A Moro peasant, Kalim Mindos, said he only learned of the high commercial value of Mallard ducks when he and his neighbors received pairs distributed free three weeks ago by employees of the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

Mindos is among 3, 564 Maguindanaon farmers that received Mallard brood fowls since the provincial government started distributing them two months ago, as part of its food security program for underdeveloped areas covered by the ceasefire between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Lynette Estandarte, Maguindanao’s chief budget officer, said the breeding duck pairs they have distributed were a mix of Mallard and imported oriental bloodlines carefully bred at a farm in Buluan town, which is being managed personally by Mangudadatu.

Estandarte declined to reveal what species of oriental ducks Mangudadatu and his subordinates have been breeding with the Mallard parent stocks they imported from western countries about a year ago.

“That should be trade secret in the meantime. That can only be revealed once farmers in the province already have enough breeding stocks,” Estandarte said.

The Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) thrives throughout the temperate and subtropical American regions, in parts of Europe, in Asia, in North Africa, and in New Zealand and Australia.

The male birds, or “drakes” have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckled feathers. Thriving in wetlands, they feed on water plants and small animals that can be hunted in open fields where they move around.

“Maguindanao is a very ideal area to raise these ducks,” said Makmod Mending, Jr., regional agriculture secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Mending said while the project is mainly an initiative of the Maguindanao provincial government, he had tasked his subordinate-veterinarians and livestock technicians to carry out interventions needed to hasten the propagation of the ducks in far-flung areas in Maguindanao.

Rice farmer Mohammad Odin, 43, who has been raising domestic duck species both for egg and meat for more than two decades now, said the brood fowl he had acquired from the office of Mangudadatu grows faster and weighs almost twice heavier than his native ducks of the same age.

“They have well-rounded, stocky bodies, with tastier and tender meat,” Odin said in the Maguindanaon vernacular.

Even the mayor of North Upi, ethnic Teduray chieftain Ramon Piang, Sr., who belongs to a peasant clan, said he was so fascinated with the quality and traits of the ducks being dispersed by the provincial government.

The local government unit of North Upi received last June 10 some 200 pairs of ducks from the provincial government, personally handed over by Mangudadatu to local officials, in the presence of dozens of Moro, Teduray and Christian farmers.

“We are supporting the efforts of the provincial government to have as many as two million of these ducks by 2016 in the barrios, in support of the livelihood and normalization thrusts of the government and the MILF in areas affected by armed conflicts and calamities such as floods and drought,” said Piang, a known peace advocate.

The governor also turned over three Bulgarian buffaloes, two Brahman cows, Excel Tilapia fingerlings to different farmers’ organizations in North Upi, in an animal dispersal event that capped off the town’s 59th founding anniversary celebration.