New book on pro-poor development policies published in honor of PH chief economist

A book on Philippine economic development has been released in honor of Philippine Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.
Titled “Pro-poor Development Policies: Lessons from the Philippines and East Asia,” the book was presented to Balisacan on 8 November 2022 and officially launched at the Philippine Economic Society (PES) 60th Annual Meeting and Conference on 9 November 2022 in Quezon City, Philippines.
A co-publication of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and Singapore-based ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, the 750-page book is a Festschrift—that is, a collection of writings published in honor of an eminent scholar during his lifetime.
The Festschrift for Balisacan contains 25 essays by notable economists from various parts of the world that pay tribute to Balisacan’s work and honor him as an outstanding economist and public servant.
Prior to his appointment as Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, Balisacan served as the first chairperson of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) from February 2016 to June 2022. He was also the Socioeconomic Planning Secretary from May 2012 to January 2016 under the Aquino administration. As Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, he concurrently serves as chairman of the boards of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Philippine Center for Economic Development (PCED), and Public-Private Partnership Center. Prior to his Cabinet appointment, Balisacan was Dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics and Undersecretary for Policy and Planning of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Book editors Hal Hill of the Australian National University, Majah-Leah Ravago of Ateneo de Manila University, and James Roumasset of the University of Hawaii said a four-year “gentle conspiracy” of Balisacan’s friends and colleagues as well as SEARCA and other organizations that promote economic development in Southeast Asia made the publication possible.
“Its themes reflect the research and policy interests over his professional career. These interests are central to understanding the development dynamics in the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia,” the book editors said.
They added that the overarching theme is “overcoming poverty through agricultural and rural development and complementary policies that engender a robust and stable structural transformation.”
As such, the book includes “lessons learned, both positive and negative, from various economic policies that have been adopted, with regard to agriculture and to economic inequality.”
SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio said SEARCA is proud to play a significant role in the joint publication of the book that honors the remarkable academic, research, and policy work of Balisacan, who is a former SEARCA Director, having served the Center from 2003 to 2009.
While at the helm of SEARCA, Balisacan reinforced the Center’s efforts to contribute to poverty reduction and food security by sharpening its focus on agricultural competitiveness and natural resource management.
“We see this book as an important influence in continuing the discourse and actions to empower agricultural institutions and communities,” Gregorio said.
He added that SEARCA joins the authors, editors, and ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in recommending the book to policymakers, researchers, government executives, and professionals working in agricultural and rural development to aid in decision-making.  
The book was revealed and presented to Balisacan during a surprise gathering of colleagues, friends, and family in celebration of his 65th birthday. It was publicly launched the next day during a plenary session of the 60th PES Annual Meeting and Conference held at Novotel Manila Araneta City. SEARCA organized the session whose theme echoed the book’s title and had Hal Hill, one of the book editors, and four authors as panelists.
Dr. Keijiro Otsuka of Kobe University discussed the changing relationship between farm size and productivity in the Philippines and Japan. He is also a SEARCA Senior Fellow and a member of the SEARCA Publications Board.
Dr. Mark Rosegrant of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) talked about adapting Philippine agriculture to climate change. Dr. Rosegrant is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD) published by SEARCA.
Dr. Peter Warr of the Australian National University spoke about the importance of agriculture for East Asian growth, while Dr. Suthad Sethboonsarng of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) talked about the modernization of the global rice market.
“As an instrument of knowledge and co-creation, the book contains lessons from Asian countries that bring to the fore not only the experience, but also the reforms in economic policies, competition law, inequalities, and agricultural development across countries,” Gregorio said.
The SEARCA-hosted plenary session thus provided a glimpse of how the new book can provide insights that are useful to achieving the challenge “From Bouncing Back to Leaping Forward Towards a Future Ready Philippines,” which was the theme of the milestone PES conference.
Photo caption: Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan (second from left) with SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio (left) and book editors (from right) Dr. Hal Hill of the Australian National University who joined the book launch via Zoom, Dr. James Roumasset of the University of Hawaii, and Dr. Majah-Leah V. Ravago of Ateneo de Manila University.

SEARCA, Regalo ng Kilt Foundation convene int’l conference on ‘BioAgversity’ in Coron  

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in partnership with the Regalo ng Kilit Foundation Inc. convened the First International Conference on School-plus-Home Gardens cum Biodiversity Enhancement Enterprise (SHGBEE1) in Coron, Palawan on 8-12 November 2022.    

The conference theme is “Restoring Biodiversity, Regenerating Agriculture and Building Businesses”.  

SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio said the international conference was organized by SEARCA and Regalo ng Kilit Foundation Inc. as a shared commitment to achieving food and nutrition security, promoting sustainable agriculture, and restoring biodiversity or “BioAgversity.”  

“More than 70 participants from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and the United States joined the conference,” Gregorio said.  

He said the participants include teachers and researchers from local schools, state universities and colleges, and other higher education institutions; policymakers from local government units and other government agencies; partners from the private sector; and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) both in the Philippines and in other Southeast Asian countries.  

“The SHGBEE1 provides a platform for sharing experiences and best practices related to school and home gardens and their contributions to biodiversity enhancement and enterprise development in Southeast Asia,” Gregorio explained.  

Four parallel sessions focus on the following thematic areas: Paving the Way for Sustainable School and Home Gardens through Conservation Agriculture for Organic Agriculture or CA4OA; Promoting SHGBEE through experiential K to 12 Lessons; Harmonizing School-plus-Home Gardens Project (S+HGP) with Biodiversity Enhancement, Community Enterprise, and Sustainable Livelihoods; and Fostering an Enabling Environment for SHGBEE through sound policy and NGO and private sector engagements.  

Gregorio said the conference also features mobile workshops and will showcase facilities and practices to increase understanding and appreciation of the indispensability of biodiversity.  

He added that SHGBEE also draws attention to the need to enhance and conserve biodiversity while sustainably producing food and supporting local tourism as alternative sources of income for households and the community.  ###  

International travel mart focuses on ecotourism
The Philippines, through the International School for Sustainable Tourism (ISST), is set to host the International Ecotourism Travel Mart (IETM 2023), the world’s first ecotourism-themed expo.
ISST has recently sealed its partnership with the Philippine-government hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) for the ecotourism fair, which will be held on March 29 to April 2, 2023 in Silang, Cavite.
SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio said “SEARCA and ISST share the common objective of promoting ecotourism to encourage economic productivity and income.”
Organized by the Japan-based Asian Environmental Network, the IETM 2023 will share best practices on ecotourism from global experts and provide networking opportunities for ecotourism authorities and advocates.
The first green travel mart and selling fair in the world will promote the country’s ecotourism sites, indigenous practices, and culture. It will also push for measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Expected to participate are delegates and exhibitors to showcase products and services that have a strong ecotourism component, green technology, and sustainable green practices.
Photo caption:Dr. Mina T. Gabor (seated, center), ISST President, signs agreements for the IETM 2023 with Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio (seated, right), SEARCA Director, and Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim (seated, left), ACB Executive Director.