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Dr. Melvin B. Carlos and Dr. Miguel Mervin S. Pajate are joined by the staff of the Livestock Research Division (LRD) and the Institution Development Division (IDD). (Image credit: Institution Development Division, DOST-PCAARRD)  

Balik Scientist primes first embryo-transfer goat production in the PH

For the first time in history, the Philippines will venture into embryo transfer for the production of the Cagayan Valley Signature Goat breed through the management of Balik Scientist Dr. Miguel Mervin S. Pajate, a renowned veterinarian based in Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia.

Marker of the ET Laboratory in ISU. (Image credit: Institution Development Division, DOST-PCAARRD)

Through the project, “Innovative Systems in Advancing Technology-based Goat Production,” funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), Dr. Pajate was brought in as a short term Balik Scientist to train Isabela State University (ISU) veterinarians and researchers on the embryo transfer technique including oocyte collection, grading, transfer, and preparation for freezing.  

Led by Dr. Jonathan N. Nayga of ISU, part of the project’s goals is to upgrade the ISU Embryo Transfer Laboratory and enable the use of such techniques, particularly to support the production of the Cagayan Valley Signature Goat, a meaty-type goat breed proven adoptable to the conditions of the region. 

The embryo transfer technique allows one to acquire the genetics of a superior animal and transfer it to an inferior animal as a surrogate. It can also stimulate the superior animal to produce multiple embryos, which can be transferred to a surrogate. An embryo can be frozen for 40 years and can still be transferred to make a surrogate animal pregnant. This technique enables genetic improvement of the population to happen faster than natural mating. This endeavor is anticipated to have a tremendous impact on the agriculture sector. 

"With embryo transfer, you can have your pure-breed goats as early as next year,” Dr. Pajate said.  

Tagging and Inspection of equipment procured for the ET Laboratory. (Image credit: Institution Development Division, DOST-PCAARRD)

“I call the technology a ‘time machine,’” he added as it can shorten the time of breeding genetically-improved population. As a Balik Scientist, Dr. Pajate willingly shares his expertise and fervently hopes that this technology, which he has been doing in Australia primarily with sheep, will be adopted by the goat industry in the country to help boost production of chevon products. According to him, his engagement with the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) may just be a one-time thing, but it could be the start to changing the industry.   

Dr. Pajate holds a master’s degree in Tropical Veterinary Science from James Cook University of North Queensland and a Postgraduate Certificate in Small Animal Practice from Murdoch University. Prior to working in Australia from 2008, he worked as an animal production specialist and had his own veterinary clinic in the country. He was invited to serve a Balik Scientist, through the BSP, which taps the ingenuity of scientists and experts of Filipino-descent and residing and working abroad, to strengthen the science and technology capabilities of local researchers and scholars in addressing critical and emerging concerns in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources sector.