UK genetics firm partners with Mindanao-based company for duck egg production

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 Feb) – Being free from bird flu, genetic company Cherry Valley of the United Kingdom has chosen to partner with a Mindanao-based company, Maharlika Agro-Marine Ventures Corp., over its Indonesian counterpart for the development of a new breed of egg-laying ducks.

During the “Wednesdays at Habi at Kape” forum in Abreeza of the Ayala Malls, Vicente T. Lao, the company’s chair and chief executive officer, said the chief geneticist will come to visit their production farm in Bukidnon on March 18 to start the breed selection that will take 25 weeks in its development period before coming up with a breed that produces eggs.

The Cherry Valley has developed the breed of Peking ducks grown at the company’s farm in Bukidnon for meat export. The company exports to Japan some 150 tons of Peking duck meat a month, he said.

Lao said that the genetic intervention takes time because the right kind of breeds must be chosen to come up with an offspring that can lay more eggs than what the regular breeds can produce.

He said they are set to forge an agreement with the UK-based company for this new undertaking that seeks to raise the Filipinos’ consumption of duck eggs by introducing these to the domestic market as table eggs.

Lao, who is chair of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC), said that other Southeast Asian markets have higher preference for duck meat and eggs over chicken unlike in the Philippines where the farmers grow ducks for the production of balut, a native Filipino food made from boiled fertilized egg.

“Our duck industry in the Philippines is so centered in balut,” he lamented.

Lao said the new egg-laying duck breed can help in the livelihood of the Mindanawons as this requires “less food and produces more eggs” that are bigger in size and cheaper as compared to chicken eggs.

He clarified that genetically improved breeds are not necessarily the same as genetically modified organisms (GMO) because their process only involves selection of good parent breeds to cross to come up with another breed for the egg-laying.

Lao also envisions to have a collection center where farmers deliver duck eggs to.

“In the Philippines, we will do the same thing. If we do this on a regular basis, farmers can collect eggs then deliver to a collection center. Our farmers will be able to participate instead of just the corporate farms producing,” he said.

The egg-laying variety of ducks can produce 325 eggs a year, he said, as compared to the current production level of their existing ducks at about 125 eggs a year.

“Ducks are very sturdy animals that can be grown on open range and cannot be sick. The chicken is grown for meat, they get sick and require a controlled facility. That’s what makes it expensive,” he said.

He added that “ducks are cheaper to produce and can eat so many things which the chicken cannot eat.”