SEARCA Director as Chairperson of Technical Panel for Agriculture

14 August 2020

SEARCA Director as Chairperson of Technical Panel for Agriculture

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has appointed Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, Director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), as Chairperson of the CHED Technical Panel for Agriculture (TPA).

CHED said it “has appointed new technical panel members in the fields of public administration and agriculture to carry out the mandate of the Commission to harness the equal representation of the academe, government and industry in curriculum reform and ensure that academic programs produce the needed manpower for local and international needs.”

The academe is represented in the TPA by Dr. Candida B. Adalla and Dr. Domingo E. Angeles, former College of Agriculture deans of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), and Dr. Danilo E. Abayon, former President of Aklan State University. Ms. Nikole Ma. Nimfa Alicer, farmer and founder of Kalipayan Farms, represents the industry. According to CHED, the TPA members representing the government will soon be appointed. Dr. Aimee Lyn Dupo, UPLB Graduate School Secretary and Professor at the UPLB Institute of Biological, was appointed as a technical evaluator.

With a term of four years, Technical Panel members are expected to assist the Commission in providing technical expertise, particularly in the development of disciplinal and degree program roadmaps, CHED said.

CHED added that the Technical Panel members will also review, revise and update policies, standards, and guidelines (PSGs) based on the policy direction set by the Commission and consistent with local, regional, and international needs and industry trends.

The Technical Panel will also “develop or revise Policies and Guidelines on Centers of Excellence and Centers or Development (COE/COD) for the various disciplines and in the crafting of monitoring and evaluation instruments and systems, as well as orientation of technical evaluators.”

On the other hand, CHED explained that the technical evaluators are group of experts and specialists whose main function is to monitor and evaluate compliance of higher education institutions with the PSG set by the Commission.

“The reconstitution of technical panels is anchored on the need to align higher education to standards, priorities and needs in international, regional, and national settings. The experts from academe, government and industry will assist the Commission in policy formulation and implementation consistent with the principles of transparency, accountability and participation,” said CHED Chairman J. Prospero E. De Vera III.

Dr. Gregorio said he welcomes the challenge to lead efforts in reforming the agriculture curriculum in the country’s higher education institutions (HEIs) to make it more relevant to the present and future job markets in the Philippines and abroad.

As agriculture remains a major engine of economic development in most Southeast Asian countries, Dr. Gregorio reiterated the strategic position of HEIs to pursue projects and initiatives related to food and nutrition security and their agility in designing their curricular and extension programs to produce professionals who can actively engage in achieving food and nutrition security goals.

13 August 2020

Universities and colleges can spark agri food systems transformation

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the connections between supply chains and our consumption patterns, and the urgent need to redefine agricultural systems as food systems. A systemic view of agricultural food systems is imperative for the needed transformation, which should stem right from the hallowed halls of the universities and colleges.”

This was the analysis of Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio and Dr. Rico C. Ancog of Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), a regional think tank hosted by the Philippine government. Headed by Dr. Gregorio, SEARCA is committed to elevating the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets. Dr. Ancog leads SEARCA’s Emerging Innovation for Growth program.

They see that higher education institutions (HEIs) can further reorient their research and development from a business perspective toward systemic change of the agriculture sector.

SEARCA promotes the active engagement of universities and colleges in Academe-Industry-Government (AIG) interconnectivity models on research collaboration and co-sharing of financial resources, to shorten the gap between research and knowledge utilization, the authors said.

“This includes contextualizing research projects within larger value chains,” they stressed.

In a policy paper, Dr. Gregorio and Dr. Ancog explained that under the AIG interconnectivity model, universities and colleges can design and implement digital agriculture infrastructure and open innovation systems across the agricultural supply chains.

They added that HEIs can also conduct collaborative knowledge generation through joint publications, patenting, technology transfer systems, and business incubation.

Moreover, they said HEIs can encourage and support innovation throughout the research process from

conceptualization, implementation and data generation, analysis, and synthesis aimed to contribute public value.

The SEARCA experts noted that for agriculture to secure food for the world’s growing population even prior to the pandemic, it already needs to produce more with less—more in terms of yield, income, and social inclusivity; and less in terms of unnecessary inputs, energy consumption, and environmental impacts.

They pointed out that “on the supply side, drastic change in both individual and collective behavior is needed toward responsible consumption.”

Dr. Gregorio reiterated the importance of the demand and the supply chain in R&D in an online forum on scientific excellence and relevance convened by the Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE) last August 10.

“On the demand side, we should ask what people would really need from R&D. On the supply side, we should ask what we should expect to be generated from R&D,” he said.

Dr. Gregorio echoed the major priorities recommended by the SEARCA policy paper in order to maximize human capital in the academe for the needed agricultural food system transformation, as follows: (1) provide the enabling environment for faculty members and researchers to engage in mutual learning and co-learning through the establishment of multi- and interdisciplinary research laboratories, centers, and institutes; (2) incentivize scientific productivity that values accomplishments beyond publications (e.g., people, partnerships, patents, product, and profit); (3) retool faculty members and researchers across the full spectrum of intellectual property rights, including technology transfer system, technology-based incubation, and entrepreneurship; (4) provide more faculty and research grants and extension awards that enable faculty and students to engage with industry, private companies, community beneficiaries, and other stakeholders across the agricultural supply chain; (5) rearticulate projects started prior to the pandemic along a country’s COVID-19 responses; and (6) craft creative research proposals related

to COVID-19.

“HEIs are key players in society’s overall ability to achieve the aspired food security and economic development. But they can aspire to contribute beyond—toward an economic development that is sustainable, inclusive, environment-friendly, and most importantly, resilient to current and future pandemics and other unanticipated disruptions,” Dr. Gregorio concluded.


12 August 2020

SEARCA launches youth program for agri innovation

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) launched its special program on youth called “Young Forces for Agricultural Innovation” or #Y4AGRI on the International Youth Day last August 12.

SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio introduced #Y4AGRI at the SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement (SOLVE) webinar on “Youth Disengagement in Agriculture: Addressing Challenges, Creating Opportunities,” which featured youth leaders from the Philippines, Latin America, and Africa.

“To show our commitment for the younger generations, our strategic plan for the next five years puts value on youth engagement in agricultural and rural development,” Dr. Gregorio stressed.

He said #Y4AGRI builds on SEARCA’s decades of experience in training the next generation of leaders in Southeast Asian agriculture through its scholarships and projects for the youth—from school children to young professionals.

To date, SEARCA has awarded more than 1,800 master’s and PhD scholarships in agriculture and related fields to Southeast Asians, including 477 Filipinos. SEARCA has also led a school-plus-home gardens project (S+HGP) that has been sustained by the pilot schools and adopted by other elementary and high schools in Laguna, Philippines. SEARCA is now bring the S+HGP to Palawan with a weekly e-training on school and home gardens cum biodiversity for teachers, program coordinators, parents from the seven pilot schools, and staff from the local government of Busuanga and Coron that runs from July 17 to September 3.

SEARCA’s youth program aims to elevate the interest of young people to venture into and pursue careers in agriculture and allied fields, said Mr. Sonny P. Pasiona of SEARCA during the SOLVE webinar.

He added that It also intends to enhance the individual, social, and technological capacities of young people through formal and non-formal education in agricultural innovation and food systems.

“#Y4AGRI is a platform for young people to be heard, engaged, and to be partners in attaining better, bigger, and smarter solutions for our farmers and farming families,” Dr. Gregorio stressed.

As such, SEARCA’s youth program will also “engage the youth in knowledge generation and policy dialogues on agricultural and rural investments.”

Forthcoming ##Y4AGRI activities include learning events, recognition of outstanding youth leaders, policy dialogues, social media campaigns, and partnership building to advance youth integration in agricultural and rural development.

During the #Y4AGRI kick-off, SEARCA also announced a “Youth COVIDeo Contest” that will promote youth solutions in food and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic. Themed “Youth and Locally Grown Food,” the contest will showcase local food production practices by young people during the pandemic in video format. The contest is open to Southeast Asians, including Filipinos, aged 15-35 with group or individual entries, until September 11, 2020. Winners will receive cash prizes ranging from $150 to $500 and a smart tablet for a special prize. The contest mechanics are published on the SEARCA website.