New SEARCA publication highlights ways to advance ARD in Southeast Asia

  • By Leah Lyn D. Domingo
  • 10 May 2021, Monday

The proceedings of the “Stakeholders Forum: A Forward-looking and Transformative Agricultural and Rural Development in Southeast Asia” convened by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in October 2020 is now available.

The new SEARCA publication captured the highlights of the forum discussions on the challenges, best practices, and opportunities to strategically advance agricultural and rural development (ARD) for the benefit of farmers and farming families in the region. Specifically, it presents strategic lessons from institutional experience in the science and practice of ARD in Southeast Asia and lays out common priorities, pragmatic actions, and modalities for partnerships and collaboration elicited from the forum speakers and participants representing multi-sector ARD partners of SEARCA.

In just over 100 pages, the volume details the ways forward in ARD that surfaced during the forum. These include focused smart agriculture, export-oriented production, environmental sustainability and community resilience, a big EcoHealth/One Health research program on the relationship between neglected tropical diseases and agricultural practices and their interconnections; multi-sectoral push for policies to drive agricultural transformation, and a shift to a food systems approach. Also underscored are how new technologies and digitalization are transforming agriculture and the need to nurture both farmers and the youth to actively engage in agriculture as farmer-entrepreneurs. Importance was also given to the role of higher education institutions and research for development in pushing for agricultural innovation.

The publication also covers the forum’s discourse on the deemed elements of a forward-looking and transformative ARD in Southeast Asia. Essentially, the needed elements cited are academe-industry-government partnerships, rebalancing of the vertical authoritarian relationship between government, powerful stakeholders, and farmers to promote mutually beneficial collective action, engaging with women and youth; and strengthening the local government’s capacity to manage diseases and related hazards through the EcoHealth/One Health framework.

The proceedings may be downloaded for free from the SEARCA website.