Faculty members from Marinduque State College (MSC), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Romblon State University (RSU), and Western Philippines University (WPU) visited universities in Southeast Asia to conduct research, benchmarking, and capacity-building activities, as well as explore collaborations between their home institutions and the members of the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC). The delegates’ specific activities are also part of their institutions’ growing effort to expand partnerships and strengthen their internationalization, which is supported by SEARCA through its project on Leveling Up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries, and Natural Resources (LevelUPHEI AFAR).
The LevelUPHEI AFAR project, funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), focuses on the capacity development of faculty/staff members of Philippine higher education institutions, specifically those from the State Universities and Colleges - Association of Colleges of Agriculture in the Philippines (SUC-ACAP) in the areas of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and agricultural engineering. The project involves linking Philippine HEIs with international university networks through participation in training programs, summer schools, forums, cross-visits, and faculty and student mobilities. Foremost of these international networks is the UC.
Dr. Doreen R. Mascarenas, Director for Extension at MSC, recently concluded her one-month mobility at Kasetsart University (KU) in Thailand from August – September 2022. Dr. Mascareñas’ activities were geared toward benchmarking best practices at KU which will help her home institution’s ongoing project on the hatchery development of four (4) culture-potential indigenous freshwater prawns in Marinduque which started on August 2021. The project hopes that Macrobrachium species of interest will provide a new commodity for the production of the local fishermen. The initiative also aims to conserve and protect the remaining indigenous freshwater prawns in the wild and prevent the entry of exotic freshwater prawn species from other areas in the Philippines. Furthermore, MSC also offers an undergraduate Fisheries Program which would benefit greatly from the mobility activities of Dr. Mascareñas.
Dr. Mascareñas participated in the Faculty of Fisheries’ research activities such as hatchery and culture techniques of aquatic organisms, pond and hatchery designs, water quality management for aquatic animals, feed technology, and observation of field and laboratory activities designed for the Department of Aquaculture undergraduate students. In addition, Dr. Mascareñas met with KU experts to explore collaborative research and possible faculty exchanges in the field of fisheries/aquaculture between MSC and KU.
Another delegate from MSC, Mr. Harvey A. Dulay, Director for Research, attended a three-week Training Program on Applications of Plant Biotechnology for Crop Improvement at KU’s Kamphaeng Saen Campus in Thailand in August 2022. He participated in lectures about Ornamental Plant Production by Tissue Culture and Molecular Plant Breeding Techniques. The training was a combination of lectures and hands-on demonstration/practice. KU provided Mr. Dulay access to their Tissue Culture Laboratory, Central Laboratory and Greenhouse Complex, and Applied Microbiology Laboratory for the duration of the training. Mr. Dulay was also able to visit the Tropical Vegetable Research Center (TVRC) and the KU-Israel Agricultural Technologies Center, and some fields and farms in the Kanchanaburi and Nakhonpathom area.
Mr. Dulay continued his mobility activities with the International Summer Course Program on Agriculture and Ecosystem Resilience to Environmental Disaster toward Regional Sustainability at IPB University, Bogor, Indonesia in September 2022. He joined seven (7) more grantees from Central Luzon State University (CLSU) and UPLB.
Dr. Yusof A. Sucol, University Researcher II at the School of Environmental Science and Management, UPLB, attended the Regional Training-Workshop on Halal Slaughtering and Certification in Malaysia in August 2022. The training-workshop aims to enhance the capacities of Halal professionals, practitioners, policymakers, and other key players and stakeholders on Halal slaughtering and certification as well as to increase the exchange of knowledge and information and explore potential collaborations for further development of the Halal industry in the ASEAN region. An output of the said activity is coming up with strategies and actions on how to address the current gaps and challenges in the Halal industry. Besides attending the training-workshop, Dr. Sucol continued with his mobility activities at the Halal Products Research Institute (HPRI), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia until early September 2022 by representing UPLB in the Halal project proposal development in partnership with UPM. During his mobility, Dr. Sucol also participated in field experiments on electroencephalogram studies in goats (small ruminants).
Dr. Juniel T. Lucidos, Director of the Planning and Development Office of RSU, recently concluded his one-month faculty mobility in September 2022 at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. His activities include knowledge-sharing about the BS Agriculture Program and other agriculture-related academic program offerings of UGM, presenting the BS Agriculture Program of RSU in the context of island-based agriculture education, observing the best practices of UGM and visiting facilities related to agriculture, and exploring possible partnerships in instruction, research, and extension between RSU and UGM.
Mr. Anastacio T. Cagabhion III, Instructor at WPU – Main Campus, San Juan, Aborlan, Palawan started his seven-month mobility at IPB University in Bogor, Indonesia in September 2022 to conduct his research on “Isolation and Characterization of Bioactive Peptides from Fermented Goat's (Capra aegagrus hircus) Milk using Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus fermentum Strains.” Mr. Cagabhion will be guided by Prof. Dr. Irma Isnafia Arief, SPt, MSi from the Faculty of Animal Science, IPB University for his research. Mr. Cagabhion hopes to improve his home university’s Food Processing Center and maximize Palawan’s rich natural resources and indigenous commodities through the research attachment.
The LevelUPHEI AFAR project continues to match faculty and staff members from SUC-ACAP member institutions with UC member universities for various mobility activities. Previous universities that have sent delegates through the project include Nueva Vizcaya State University (NVSU), University of Southern Mindanao (USM), Visayas State University (VSU), and CLSU.