SEARCA's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak an international public health emergency last 30 January 2020, food security across Southeast Asia, has been threatened. Despite the pandemic and quarantine measures, SEARCA has remained steadfast in implementing its 11th Five-Year Plan focusing on Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN).

This webpage collects the Center's initiatives, activities, and other responses amidst the COVID-19 pandemic – staying true to its mandate to "build the capacities of Southeast Asian institutions working in agriculture and rural development," which is more important than ever in ensuring the resilience of Southeast Asia's agricultural systems and livelihoods.


SOLVE Webinars

The SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement (SOLVE) initiative highlighting concrete actions that realize the Center's vision of agricultural and rural development (ARD) in Southeast Asia was launched in April 2020. The first eight SOLVE webinars were focused on solving food insecurity, emerging diseases, and income insufficiency in the time of COVID-19 pandemic.

SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement (SOLVE) Webinar Series
22 Jul 2020

SOLVE Income Insufficiency in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic through Inclusive Rural Financing

Speakers: Dr. Prasun Kumar Das, MBA and Mr. Ruben Simon, Jr.

8 Jul 2020

SOLVE Emerging Diseases in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic through One Health Research and Surveillance System

Speakers: Dr. Synan S. Baguio; Dr. Samuel Joseph Castro; Dr. Muhammad Muharram Hidayat, DVM, MSc; and Dr. Sirikachorn Tangkawattana, DVM, MSc, PhD

27 May 2020

SOLVE Food Insecurity in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic: Championing School-plus-Home Gardens

Speakers: Ms. Michelle Samia; Mr. Lamberto C. Perolina; Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio; and Dr. Blesilda M. Calub

20 May 2020

SOLVE Food Insecurity in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic: School-plus-Home Gardens (S+HG), the way to go

Speakers: Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio; Hon. Leonor M. Briones; and Ms. Soledad S. Villanueva

28 Apr 2020

SOLVE Food Insecurity in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic

Speakers: Hon. William T. Dar; Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio; and Mr. Garry A. Hidalgo

Youth COVIDeo Contest

In August 2020 on the United Nations International Youth Day, SEARCA launched its "Young Forces for Agricultural Innovation (#Y4AGRI)" program, whose first activity was a "Youth COVIDeo Contest" that put a spotlight on Southeast Asian youth's local food production practices during the pandemic. The Top 10 finalists are featured below.

Alexander Garcia

Quezon, Philippines

Myka Fragata

Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines

Carl Anthony Puño

Laguna, Philippines

Benson Cariñaga

Albay, Philippines

Jan Rupert Lacson

Tarlac, Philippines

4-H Club Batangas

Batangas, Philippines

Nico Oliveros

Laguna, Philippines

Marcelino Padilla

Northern Samar, Philippines

Abel Francis Laguardia

Camarines Sur, Philippines

Joint COVID-19 Advisory

Position Paper to Help Provide Food for the Filipinos Now

On 28 March 2020, a "Position Paper to help provide food for Filipinos NOW" jointly signed by the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization of the Philippines (CAMP), Inc.; National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST), Philippines; and SEARCA was submitted to the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Philippines.

The Looming Food Crisis

The Looming Food CrisisToday, the nation is in a state of widespread confusion, fear, and feeling of helplessness in the face of the deepening threat from the COVID-19 virus. Adding to our worries is the justified sense of food insecurity. Farmers are afraid to leave their homes, traders are constrained, retailers have to pass through many checkpoints before they are finally turned away, markets have limited hours and some food items are scarce. We need an alternative and complementary food system that is decentralized, de-industrialized and local. Read more

Our Body: Our Last Line of Defense Against COVID-19

SEARCA joined the National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST), Philippines; Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB) in producing a COVID-19 Advisory on "Our Body: Our last line of defense against COVID-19" publicized and distributed online.

Community Outreach

SEARCA fabricated pedal-controlled faucets as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hands-free operated faucet-and-sink units were donated to the Los Baños community, including its host institution, the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Read more:

SEARCA fabricated pedal-controlled faucets as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

News and Updates

SEARCA published stories on supporting food and agricultural systems during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide timely and credible information to its stakeholders and the general public.

More SEARCA News regarding COVID-19

Staff Safety / Well-being

A safe and productive working environment have been SEARCA's utmost priority for its staff since the pandemic started. A Crisis Management Team was established to implement measures and protocols that minimize or eliminate the risk of COVID-19 infection, including:

Adoption of combination of Work-From-Home (WFH) and Flexi-time Arrangement of Skeleton Workforce, which excludes those belonging to vulnerable groups.

Provision of transportation services for Skeleton Workforce to and from the workplace. Drivers check passengers' temperature before boarding and only limited number of passengers allowed per vehicle for social distancing.

Mandatory body temperature checking using a thermal scanner at the entrance for all staff, agency personnel, guests and visitors. Disinfecting mat, alcohol dispenser and pedal-controlled faucets with soap are also provided as additional precaution.

Mandatory wearing of face mask and observance of physical distancing are required for all staff, agency personnel, guests and visitors at all times while on SEARCA premises. Signage placed in high traffic areas to encourage compliance.

Regular provision of health kits such as vitamins, face masks and shields, antibacterial wipes, and alcohol bottles for all staff.

Weekly cleaning / maintenance of air filters and more frequent disinfection of SEARCA workplace areas.

Compliance with Los Baños Municipal Ordinance requiring all establishments and offices to have a QR scanner as part of contract tracing.