AIM FarmJuan team and NVSU AIRIN team recognized as Young Innovators Olympics 2.0 finalists

January 21, 2021- Young innovators from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and Nueva Vizcaya State University (NVSU) beat online last December 19, 2020 nine other teams at the Luzon Demo Day of the Innovation Olympics 2.0.
The AIM and NVSU teams will compete with fellow finalists from the Visayas Region and Mindanao Region for the grand prize of PHP 200,000. Each finalist will receive P100,000 for the implementation of their projects.
Dr. Glenn B.Gregorio, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Director, and Dr. Rico C. Ancog, SEARCA program lead for Emerging Innovation for Growth as well as UP Scientist III and Associate Professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), were among the five judges during the Luzon Demo Day.
Innovation Olympics second edition was launched in October 2020 as a nationwide search for innovative solutions in precision agriculture for small-scale vegetable farming developed by young Filipinos.
“The IO2 is the platform where the innovative, adventurous, or crazy ideas of our youth can be honed and tested in the farmers’ field and make the life of farmers comfortable and profitable. We believe that our youth are the implementors of Agriculture 4.0 and they have the ability to make it a reality,“ Dr. Gregorio highlighted.

The collaborators for Innovation Olympics 2.0 is the East-West Seed with the SEARCA, Sensient Colors LLC, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), UPLB-Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (UPLB-TTBDO), UPLB Startup Innovation and Business Opportunity Linkaging Labs (SIBOL Labs), and APEX: The UPLB Business Network.
SEARCA’s support to the Innovation Olympics 2.0 is tied to its priority focus on Emerging Innovation for Growth (EIG) to achieve outcomes or solutions that can be described as transformational innovation, which may be in the form of agripreneurship startups, technology adaptation or prototypes such as those being developed in the competition.
Farm Journal Using Analytics and Networks (FarmJuan) AIM Team developed by Earwin Belen, Carlo Tansuk, Kit Sumabat, and Arvi Ubaldo, who are all AIM Master of Science in Innovation and Business students.
FarmJuan is a digital agriculture system enabler that provides actionable insights for farmers that can help increase yield and profit, monitor farm inputs and minimize their production costs. 
  “Will provide end-to-end solutions that empower farmers and consumers by leveraging IoT sensors, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and blockchain to monitor, detect, and trace vegetables at the farm level.” Belen FarmJuan stressed. 
 It will also link farmers to a licensed agriculturist that can provide prescriptions to the farmers based on the data from the system Belen added. 
Subsequently , the Automated Irrigation and Nutrient Management System (AIRIN) of NVSU team was developed by Myka Fragata, Maricel Farro, and Jaime Hapicio, who are all NVSU students. Farro and Hapicio are both BS Electrical Engineering students, while Fragata is pursuing her BS in Secondary Education-General Sciences. 
“We want to create a sure system where farmers will not struggle in irrigation and fertilizer and pesticide application because they can control their farm operations just through SMS or text messaging” Fragata said.  
“With AIRIN, farmers can get a synergistic system with soil sensors that can measure the soil’s current moisture; pH; salinity; temperature; nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium content; a water level sensor to know the availability of water from the source remotely; a communication system that can log all these data and send real-time updates and recommendations to farmers to ensure healthy soils and increase crop yield; and a solar-powered irrigation system that can water up to 15 meters deep and deliver up to 1,000 liters per hour.” Fragata stated. 

Meanwhile, prior to the Luzon Demo Day, a three-day hackathon with design thinking expert Carlo Valencia was held for 11 competing teams from Luzon. The hackathon enabled them to refine their ideas through the concepts of design thinking—a process used to understand the users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. 

Lastly, the schedule is this coming March to May 2021, the Luzon finalists will be implementing their projects together with their mentors. They will present their results along with the finalists from the Visayas and Mindanao at the Innovation Olympics 2.0 National Demo Day in June 2021.

 Based on the information coming from Ms Leah Lyn D. Domingo of SEARCA 
MJ Olvina- Balaguer of DZMJ Online, Makabuluhang Jornalismo your hapiness channel+639053611058,

Participants of the UC Faculty Forum jointly organized by SEARCA and UPLB last July 23-24 in Los Baños, Laguna.

31 July 2019, Los Baños, Laguna

University faculty from 6 countries convene to tackle challenges of Fourth Industrial Revolution

Faculty members of eight universities from six countries gathered in Los Baños, Laguna at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) to participate in a faculty forum focused on responding to the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The faculty forum is an initiative of the SEARCA-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC). Its inaugural run last July 23-24 was jointly organized by SEARCA and UPLB.

A total of 66 participants came from UC members, namely: UPLB; Institut Pertanian Bogor, Universitas Gadjah Mada, and University of Brawijaya, all in Indonesia; Universiti Putra Malaysia; Kasetsart University in Thailand; Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan; and National Taiwan University.

UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez, Jr. said the Fourth Industrial Revolution has been fast evolving and that higher education institutions (HEIs) should keep up with it.

“To enable younger generations to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to shift emphasis away from growth learning, knowledge consumption, and conformity, and build the huge capacities for innovation, creativity, and collaboration,” he said in a message delivered by UPLB Vice Chancellor Portia Lapitan.

The value of innovation-industry collaboration in empowering HEIs was underscored by Dr. Richard Abendan, chief of party of the United States Agency for International Development-Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development (USAID-STRIDE) Program.

He explained that “industries define their problem and the university research is there to work with them in co-creating research projects to solve these problems.”

Dr. Aberdan cited the support that USAID-STRIDE extends to university career centers, professional science masters, and technology transfer offices at selected HEIs in the Philippines to improve their capacities for innovation.

A total of 43 papers were presented in parallel sessions focused on food security, climate change, rural transformation, and graduate education in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In two roundtable sessions, the participants to discuss key areas of strategic collaboration among their universities.

“They proposed cross visits, co-supervision of thesis, co-authorship of papers, and research collaboration on topics that transcend boundaries such as on studies involving the Mekong River or the South China Sea,” said Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma, SEARCA Program Head for Graduate Education and Institutional Development.

She said another proposal is the extension of the current UC project on the Joint Master of Science in Food Security and Climate Change (MS FSCC) to a Doctor of Science in Food Security and Climate Change program.

The MS FSCC currently has 81 students from Europe and Asia, including 14 Filipinos, whose scholarships are managed by SEARCA. 

Dr. Cuaresma added that at least three panelists suggested that the UC use its influence to be an advocacy group for policies that would prioritize the agriculture sector or benefit the smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia.


Hon. Mayor Cesar J. Isaac III (left, standing) discusses Guinayangan’s experience regarding the management of Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape and the utilization of the payment for ecosystem services (PES) or Green Fund.
Participants at the Guinayangan Climate Resilient Agriculture Demo Farm and Eco Park during the final leg of the field visits to the Guinayangan CSVs.

7 August 2019

Southeast Asians learn best practices in climate-smart agriculture in Quezon town

It takes a village to scale climate-smart agriculture.

This statement of Leocadio S. Sebastian, Regional Program Leader for CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA), sums up the advocacy of CCAFS SEA, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) to push for the establishment of climate-smart villages (CSVs) in the ASEAN region to improve food security and resiliency in local communities.

SEARCA, IIRR, and CCAFS SEA jointly conducted a roving workshop last July to demonstrate how local-level outscaling of climate-resilient agricultural practices can be undertaken under different agro-ecosystems and conditions in Guinayangan, Quezon Province.

The workshop participants came from the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN-CRN). They are nationals of the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand.

Their field visits to key CSV sites in Guinayangan enabled them to appreciate CSVs and their potential to significantly improve food security at the community level in the face of heightened risks to agriculture-based livelihood due to changing climate.

Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, said the battle against climate change is either won or lost at the grassroots level, where localized interventions assume a pivotal role.

Dr. Sebastian added that the village is the “nucleus of social action,” where real action toward climate change mitigation and adaptation starts.

CCAFS SEA developed the CSV approach in response to the need for context-specific solutions to climate risks at the local level. The approach enable farmers to use experiential learning to overcome challenges posed by climate change and capacitate them to establish their own CSVs.

Model CSV sites were established in the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam to serve as platforms for CSA learning and community-based participatory action demonstrations.

The CSV in Guinayangan, Quezon illustrates how the local government can use its natural resources to address the impacts of climate change, said Ms. Emilita Monville Oro, IIRR Country Director and Acting Regional Director for Asia. 

She also emphasized the importance of building the capacities of communities and local government units in scaling up initiatives on climate-smart agriculture.

The workshop discussed the key concepts and elements of the CSV as an agricultural research for development approach to addressing climate change, food and nutrition security, and livelihood development.

Participatory tools and experiences in establishing the context of CSV, particularly in the case of the Department of Agriculture’s Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA) villages and the Guinayangan CSV were also presented.

The emerging lessons from CSVs in Southeast Asia were tackled in panel discussion by Dr. Sebastian; Ms. Perla G. Baltazar, Senior Technical Officer at the DA Systems-wide Climate Change Office; and Dr. Julian Gonsalves, IIRR Senior Adviser and CCAFS Project Leader.

The participants visited various sites in Guinayangan, Quezon that showcase best practices in climate-smart agriculture.

One site was Barangay Cabong Norte, where participants learned about intercropping and other interventions in an upland agricultural system, with emphasis on corn production.

They also visited Barangay Capuluan Tulon, which featured small-scale low external input, low carbon footprint methods of pig raising using resilient but improved native pig breeds as alternative source of livelihood of farmers.

The fishery and coastal agriculture site in Barangay Capuluan Central, showcased initial work on coastal reforestation and diversification of livelihoods of coastal fishing families.

Guinayangan Mayor Cesar J. Isaac III shared the local government unit’s experiences on the Green Fund (payment for ecosystem services) and water resource management during the field visit to the Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape.

In Barangay Sta. Cruz, the participants learned about farmers’ experiences regarding agroforestry and diversification, specifically the production of chili peppers and linkage with the private sector in expanding their market.

The demo farm and eco-park managed by the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (OMA) of Guinayangan served as the last stop of the roving workshop.

The participants also visited the National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center and the Quezon Agricultural Research and Experiment Station in Tiaong, Quezon. There they learned about the various initiatives and milestones under the DA-AMIA Program, particularly the adaptation strategies and interventions implemented in the AMIA village in San Francisco, Quezon.

The workshop culminated with participants sharing their best practices and experiences in CSA-related work followed by a plenary presentation of their re-entry action plans.


7 September 2019

High-level meeting to chart regional directions, craft strategies to

improve technical and vocational education in Southeast Asia

Officials from the ministries of education, labor, and vocational training from the 11 Southeast Asian countries, as well as heads of specialist institutions of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), will convene in Brunei Darussalam on 9-10 September 2019 to discuss the current situation of technical and vocational education and training in Southeast Asia and to develop strategies to improve the regional cooperation and harmonization for the region.

The Philippines will be represented by a delegation from the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). A Filipino also heads the Bangkok-based SEAMEO Secretariat, which organized the 5th High Officials Meeting (HOM) on Southeast Asia-Technical and Vocational Education and Training (SEA-TVET).

With the theme “Strengthening Efforts towards TVET 4.0,” the HOM on SEA-TVET will determine and plan regional directions and strategies to advance the quality of TVET in Southeast Asia.

The Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has actively supported TVET since it was tapped by SEAMEO to lead a research on competency certification for agricultural workers in Southeast Asia to promote TVET in agriculture.

Headed by Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA is one of the 26 SEAMEO specialist institutions, some of which will be represented in the 5th HOM on SEA-TVET. Dr. Gregorio is among some 60 participants of said high-level meeting.

The SEARCA study showed that TVET qualifications in the region are prevalently accorded through competency certification systems that are now being integrated into national qualifications frameworks linked to the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF).

SEARCA further reported that the AQRF is designed to support and enhance each ASEAN Member State’s (AMS) national qualifications framework by enabling comparisons of qualifications across AMS in terms of recognition, promotion of lifelong learning, facilitation of learner and worker mobility, transparency, and quality assurance. 

Dr. Gregorio said since the AQRF gives importance to the recognition of non-formal and informal learning, it would benefit agricultural workers as they acquire skills and knowledge largely through non-formal and informal learning modes provided mostly by agriculture extension services systems.

However, the SEARCA study also showed that “while the AQRF is expected to support and enhance the individual national qualifications framework (NQF) or qualifications system of the AMS, these NQFs are in varying stages of development and implementation, with some being fully developed and functioning NQFs while others have barely started.”

“This disparity in NQFs may be addressed during the 5th HOM on SEA-TVET, which intends to develop strategies to improve the regional cooperation and harmonization for the region,” Dr. Gregorio said.

He said the recommendations of the 2018 high-level regional workshop that validated the SEARCA study can still be relevant in the discussions in the 5th HOM on SEA-TVET.

The four-point recommendation that SEARCA presented in the 4th HOM on SEA-TVET held in Manila in September 2018 were as follows:

First, there is a need to encourage TVET institutions to increasingly assume proactive and transforming roles in assessing, validating, and certifying skills and experience gained through non-formal and informal modes within a lifelong learning framework.

Second, competency certification systems should be strengthened and expanded to cover recognition of non-formal and informal learning.

Third, TVET institutions must be encouraged to pursue partnerships and alliances with a broader range of stakeholders.

Lastly, there is a need to promote support from regional TVET networks and international cooperation. 

Also expected to participate in this year’s high-level meeting are officials from the ASEAN Secretariat, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-Bangkok, SEAMEO Secretariat, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), and research and government agencies in Japan, Korea, Germany, and the United Kingdom.


Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director
This volume published in 2018 under the SEARCA Discussion Paper Series provides a background on the state of competency certification of agriculture workers in the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.