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.
In May and June 2020, SEARCA published two policy papers, a policy brief, and a peer-reviewed international journal article on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural food systems and policy recommendations to manage such impacts.
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.
Speakers: Dr. Synan S. Baguio; Dr. Samuel Joseph Castro; Dr. Muhammad Muharram Hidayat, DVM, MSc; and Dr. Sirikachorn Tangkawattana, DVM, MSc, PhD
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.
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
Today, 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
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.
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).
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.
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: