OUTGOING Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) director, Gil Saguiguit Jr. PhD, was commended for his outstanding leadership in the recently held annual meeting of SEARCA's governing board in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The governing board of SEARCA from 11 Southeast Asian member-countries met from October 13-14 to review the center's programs and accomplishments in 2017-2018, which coincided with the final year of Saguiguit as director.
Leah Lyn Domingo, SEARCA public relations specialist, said the governing board invited Saguiguit to share his views on the role and directions of the center amid the changing face of agriculture and the evolving rural transformation in the region, which was in light of his involvement in crafting no less than the last four of SEARCA's five-year development plans (FYPs).
For the year under review, Saguiguit reported on the center's accomplishments under the final year of his term, which included the activities he initiated to lay the foundation of SEARCA's 11th FYP taking off from the 10th FYP's highly-regarded and successful focus on inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development.
According to Domingo, SEARCA's governing board cited and thanked Saguiguit for his "unequalled service and accomplishments" during his long career with the center, starting as a scholar and student assistant and working his way to the top position for an unprecedented three terms as director.
Domingo said that largely through Saguiguit's efforts, SEARCA became a leading agricultural center in Southeast Asia and became a partner of choice for national and international development organizations and donors. It was also successful in getting funding support from friendly governments in Southeast Asia, Europe, Japan and North America.
SEARCA has also served its host, the Philippine government, by providing technical assistance, policy studies and counterpart funding for collaborations with the departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, and Agrarian Reform; Climate Change Commission; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, among others.
"With this, Filipinos are the leading recipients of SEARCA's capacity building programs and agricultural development initiatives. It provided inputs to legislation by working with ARD (agricultural and rural development) advocates in both houses of Congress and also works closely with the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture," Domingo said.
On the penultimate year of his term, Saguiguit built linkages with Taiwan's Agriculture Ministry, the Korean Rural Development Authority, the World Vegetable Center, and Agreenium and Agropolis Fondation of France, and expanded the reach and membership of the SEARCA-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The center also proposed to the Commission on Higher Education a special component of this program, which targets assisting in the development of state universities and colleges throughout the country. Saguiguit is also credited for building up the center's financial strength and stability as well as vastly improving SEARCA's administrative and operating systems.
The SEARCA governing board is currently chaired by Fernando Sanchez Jr. PhD, chancellor of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.