Dr. Glenn Gregorio, Center Director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), served as one of the plenary speakers during Session 1 of the International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Sciences (ISSAAS) International Scientific Congress and General Meeting 2023 held on 8–10 November 2023.
With the theme, "Integrated Management of Southeast Asian Agricultural Landscapes," the congress spotlighted food security, soil and water conservation, climate resilience, and market systems and initiatives.
In his presentation titled "Transforming Agricultural Education in the Era of the 4th Industrial Revolution," Dr. Gregorio emphasized the significance of capacitating the education sector’s human capital—the faculty and students. More importantly, he highlighted how universities expanded their role outside of research, instruction, and extension in response to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and other global concerns.
He discussed universities’ new significant roles—as engines of social inclusion, bridges to social and cultural interactions, and key institutions for championing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"Universities are now engines of social inclusion; the pandemic brought innovative ways of inviting people into the learning environment," Dr. Gregorio imparted.
"Universities are bridges; their contribution to society is measured by not just their impact on research but also their capacity to bridge social and cultural interaction between them and the community they aim to serve," he also shared.
"Last but not least, universities have become key institutions in achieving the SDGs," he added.
The Center Director also delved into capitalizing on universities’ research for development and innovation potentials. He said that basic research and policy support are needed for new and relevant crop varieties and livestock breeds development; agricultural systems technologies, such as water management, pests and diseases management, and weather and climate forecasting; postharvest management; nutrition and food safety maintenance; and diversified farming.
Moreover, he recommended more studies and initiatives on improving financial technology design for farmers and mainstreaming financial systems like loans, credit systems, and agricultural insurance facilities. He also called for more government budget allocation as well as private initiatives on agriculture.
During the General Membership Meeting, Dr. Nur Azura Adam, SEARCA deputy director for programs and ISSAAS-Malaysia Chapter vice president, delivered the Malaysia country report.
SEARCA, through its Partnerships Unit, hosted an institutional exhibit at the conference showcasing its publications on food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and agricultural market dynamics, the Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD), and information materials on its programs and services.
This year's ISSAAS International Scientific Congress and General Meeting was hosted by the ISSAAS-Philippine Chapter.