Balungao’s success in goat-raising celebrated in festival

GOAT CAPITAL OF PANGASINAN

BALUNGAO—Pangasinan boasts of Lingayen bagoong, Dagupan bangus, Mangaldan carabeef, etc. Meet Balungao goat meat!

Goat-raising in this agricultural town has become so successful that its local government decided to honor the industry during its town fiesta.

Danilo Imus, municipal agriculturist, said goat raising, also the One Town One Product (OTOP) of Balungao. has been major source of supplemental income for the town’s many households and farmers.

He said Balungao’s strides in goat raising started in 2002 when the town was chosen as pilot area for the national program on farmers’ field school on integrated goat management sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Almost all barangays here are raising goats but most are found in Barangays Mabini, San Andres, Esmeralda, San Raymundo and San Joaquin.

Traders from different areas come here to buy goats to slaughter and sell its meat.

“We are like the goat capital of Pangasinan,” he said. The industry has been growing leaps and bounds that it prompted growers to upgrade their animal’s breeding using Boer and Anglo–Nubian goats.

“Our farmers are happy because their breeds have improved,” he said. Crossbred goats grow faster and can be sold in four to months unlike pure local that used to take one year before they can be sold.

Townsfolk who graduate from the local government’s farmers’ livestock school program are given three goats to raise.

Under the government program, every time a goat that gives birth, up to three offspring are turned over to the local government for dispersal to other qualified recipients, Imus said.

Napier grass is also grown by farmers in their backyard for food of their goats.

In 2005, because of the success of their goat raising industry, local officials led by then Councilor (now mayor) Philipp Peralta, councilor who chaired the committee on agriculture, launched the Goat Festival and made goat-raising as Balungao’s OTOP.

The Goat Festival has since been organized every year featuring events like parade of goats, chevon cooking contest, street dancing competition where participants are clad in goat-inspired costumes, among others. The festival this year was held last from March 21 to 22 and was again made the highlight of the town fiesta celebration.

Imus said submissions to the 101 Ways to Cook Chevon (goat meat) contest will be compiled for the publication of a cookbook containing recipes using chevon.

Crossbred goats for slaughter fetch P2,500 to P3,000 while others for breed or dairy command P5,000 each. (Eva Visperas)

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