Food security amidst the COVID-19 pandemic takes center stage in the maiden launch of SEARCA's new webinar series called SOLVE

  • By Rico C. Ancog
  • 25 April 2020

1st (Launching of SOLVE): Food Insecurity in the time of COVID-19 Pandemic

True to its commitment of being a leading enabler and champion of excellence in agriculture and rural development (ARD), the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) will launch its new initiative called SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement (SOLVE), a webinar series highlighting concrete actions that realize the Center's vision of ARD in Southeast Asia.

In the maiden release of SOLVE on 28 April 2020 at 10:00, SEARCA will be drumbeating the pressing food security concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hon. William T. Dar, Secretary, Department of Agriculture of the Philippines, will elaborate on the "Plant, Plant, Plant" Program of the Philippine Government in ensuring food security particularly in time of pandemic. In addition, Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, Director, SEARCA, will give a talk titled "Rethinking food security, Sowing seeds of curiosity: What, Where and How for the Philippines and Southeast Asia." To also provide concrete examples on what can be done at the farm level, Mr. Garry A. Hidalgo, General Manager, Farmers' Factory, will be sharing about the joys of farming and specific urban agriculture approaches like containerized and modular farming strategies.

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) describes food security to exist when "all people at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for active and healthy life." While conceptual underpinnings of food security in times of protracted crises are indispensable, SEARCA's SOLVE will further push the discussion towards solutions that work and successful strategies and innovations that matter. In particular, it will identify some concrete actions in the production, processing, marketing, retail, consumption, and disposal that would be relevant for the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

Dr. Gregorio related that "the implementation of SOLVE is SEARCA's own way of channeling proven and tested solutions to a number of issues and problems in agriculture sector in general and farm operations in particular. Solutions to these problems actually abound so we are offering SEARCA as a gateway for these information to be made more accessible by farmers, farming families, and farmer organizations." As outlined in its 11th Five-Year Plan, SEARCA's mission is to elevate the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, SEARCA will also take the opportunity during the launching of SOLVE to further expound the importance of transformational change as a necessary guiding principle to afford systemic revitalization of the agricultural systems and further strengthening its high potential as food systems, thereby highlighting the strong links between farming and human well-being. The "new normal" has further strengthened SEARCA's resolve in embarking on new modalities and wise utilization of technology-mediated platforms of interactions---a new innovation with the end goal of effectively reaching and delivering context-relevant and valuable services to farmers and the ARD stakeholders. Using the likes of Zoom and Facebook Live postings, among others, SEARCA is conscious in its efforts to break boundaries, both in physical and conceptual terms, to strategically disseminate just-in-time solutions.