5th DL Umali Award Conferment Ceremony and Lecture honors Mr. Tin Htut Oo of Myanmar
Mr. Tin Htut Oo with SEARCA senior and adjunct fellows, former and current officials, and staff.
Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines – As part of its Golden Anniversary Celebration, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), in collaboration with the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), and the Dioscoro L. Umali Foundation, Inc. (DLUF), held the 5th Dioscoro L. Umali Achievement Award in Agricultural Development Conferment and Lecture on 24 November 2016 at the SEARCA Headquarters.
Mr. Tin Htut Oo with Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., his family, and friends, Mrs. Lei Lei Sein of the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in the Philippines, some of the Outstanding SEARCA Scholarship Alumni (OSSA), Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco of NAST, former SEARCA Director Dr. Percy E. Sajise, Dr. Tinsiri Siribodhi of SEAMEO Secretariat, and Dr. Poonpipope Kasemsap of Kasetsart University.
Representatives from various institutions in the Philippines and abroad, joined the momentous event, together with SEARCA former directors, fellows, scholars, outstanding scholarship alumni, as well as Philippine academicians. Mrs. Lei Lei Sein, Chargé d' Affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in the Philippines, gave a message on behalf of the Embassy and in support of this year's DL Umali awardee.
SEARCA Director, Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr. welcomed the guests and highlighted the importance of the DL Umali Award as an embodiment of the Center's advocacy on inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ARD) in Southeast Asia. The award honors exemplary individuals who have contributed their life's work in the promotion of ARD and influenced overall development efforts in their respective countries and throughout the region.
The 2015 DL Umali awardee, Mr. Tin Htut Oo, is an outstanding development advocate from Myanmar, who was recognized for spearheading the establishment of the Agricultural Market Information Service (MIS), for introducing in-service training for young agricultural graduates on advanced technology and agribusiness, for his continuing advocacy for a new vision for agriculture in Myanmar, and for his support and guidance to various regional and international organizations. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, NAST representative, and Mrs. Nelia T. Gonzalez, president of DLUF conferred Mr. Tin Htut Oo with the DL Umali Award.
DL Umali awardee with Dr. Saguiguit, Dr. Rasco of NAST and Dr. Nelia T. Gonzales of the DLUF.
Immediately after his conferment, Mr. Tin Htut Oo delivered a lecture on his lifetime work entitled, "Disruptive Innovation for Transformational Agricultural Development in Myanmar: Empowering Smallholder Farmers to become Agribusiness Entrepreneurs."
In his lecture, Mr. Tin Htut Oo emphasized that the key to enhancing sustainable agricultural productivity and ensuring future food and nutrition security and safety in Myanmar is to transform agriculture by empowering farmers to be agribusiness entrepreneurs. This can be done through disruptive innovation, which is multi-dimensional in nature.
Mr. Tin Htut Oo identified five broad priority areas where disruptive innovation is mostly needed in Myanmar and these include: (i) farming systems, (ii) agribusiness and global value chain linkages, (iii) agricultural finance and risk management, (iv) natural resource management and climate change adaptation, and (v) agricultural and agribusiness training institutions. Moving forward, "Myanmar must change its strategy from government-driven focus on crop production to a disruptive agricultural transformation strategy hinged on market-oriented, innovative and private sector-driven investments centered on smallholder farmers throughout the country."
To end the ceremony, Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco of NAST delivered his closing remarks by reiterating some of the lecture's major points. He also pointed out that the Philippines experiences the same problems as Myanmar in relation to poverty, rural migration, uneven economic growth, and discrimination against agricultural labor. He encouraged people to heed Mr. Tin Htut Oo's call for rural development, which is not only measured by production growth but more importantly by improved farmer's conditions. (Bernice Anne C. Darvin)