The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) conferred the only summa cum laude award at this year's graduation rites to Mr. Arnel B. Villancio, Jr., a BS Agriculture student.
In his valedictory message during the 45th UPLB Commencement Exercises, Mr. Villancio underscored the role of agriculturists in seeking ways to ensure food security.
Though Mr. Villancio said farmers, not agriculturists, feed the world, he stressed that "the responsibility of agriculturists is to continuously find ways for the world to feed itself."
SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr. said indeed, agriculture has evolved from the old concept of ox-and-plow farming to a dynamic field that has become more competitive by applying modern technologies and adopting business practices.
Among the UPLB graduates were 27 of the 50 master's and PhD scholars of SEARCA who obtained their graduate degrees this school year.
The 23 other SEARCA scholars completed their graduate programs at Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI); Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM); Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB), both in Indonesia; and Kasetsart University (KU), Chiang Mai University (CMU), and Khon Kaen University (KKU), all in Thailand.
The degree programs of all 50 newly graduated SEARCA scholars were in the various specialized fields of agriculture and related disciplines. These include agriculture, agronomy, plant breeding, animal science, horticulture, entomology, plant pathology, soil science, agricultural systems management, food science and technology, agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, forestry, rural development management, rural sociology, extension education, environmental science, natural resource conservation, and information technology for natural resources management.
Now in its 50th year, SEARCA carries out its mandate to build the capacities of Southeast Asian individuals and institutions through inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD) as the Center of Excellence in Agriculture of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). It is hosted by the Philippine government on the campus of UPLB, the premier agriculture university in the Philippines. The UPLB Chancellor is the Country Representative of the Philippines to the SEARCA Governing Board.