Dr. William D. Dar, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippines, visited SEARCA on 18 September 2020. He was accompanied by his colleagues at the DA, namely: Assistant Secretary Noel O. Reyes and Dr. Fermin Adriano.
They were received by Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director; Mr. Joselito G. Florendo, Deputy Director for Administration; Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma; Program Head for Education and Collective Learning; Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, Program Head for Research and Thought Leadership; Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Operations Consultant for Emerging Innovation for Growth; and Dr. Romeo V. Labios, Operations Consultant for Partnerships.
They discussed the challenges and opportunities in Philippine agriculture, current DA and SEARCA programs, and two new SEARCA-implemented Asian Development Bank (ADB) technical assistance projects that support DA and agricultural development in the country.
One of said ADB projects is focused on the formulation of the National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan (NAFMIP).
The other project is the “ADB TA 9689 REG: Analysis of Fruit and Vegetable Value Chains in the Philippines,” which will assess the postharvest loss occurring in different segments of the value chains like harvesting, field-stacking, cleaning, packaging, storage, transportation, and loading-unloading. It will also assess the profitability of producing fruits and vegetables, as well as identify and evaluate the role of middlemen and its impact on price and supply. The availability and quality of cold storage facilities, transportation, and packaging will also be evaluated. Moreover, the project will identify and analyze the constraints in each segment of the value chain and suggest specific strategies and interventions to improve fruit and vegetable value chains in the country.
SEARCA and DA have had a long history of partnership on numerous capacity building, research, and technical assistance projects. Ongoing SEARCA projects with DA include the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded “Agricultural Transformation, and Market Integration in the ASEAN Region: Responding to Food Security and Inclusiveness Concerns (ATMI-ASEAN)” and the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR)-supported project “Upgrading the Calamansi Value Chain towards Improving the Calamansi Industry of Oriental Mindoro.”
While at SEARCA, Sec. Dar also visited the completed wing of the Southeast Asian AgriMuseum and Learning Center for Agricultural and Rural Development that was constructed by SEARCA with funds from the DA-BAR Research Facilities Development Grant Program.