In pursuit of becoming the champion of excellence in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), a non-profit organization that helps empower rural communities in Southeast Asia, Eastern Africa, and Southern Africa.
Signatories to the agreement were Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, and Ms. Emilita Monville-Oro, IIRR Acting Regional Director for Asia and concurrent Country Director for the Philippines. The signing was witnessed by Mr. Joselito G. Florendo, SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration, and Mr. Rene R. Vidallo, IIRR-Philippines Program Director.
At IIRR’s end, Dr. Julian Gonsalves, Senior Program Adviser, and Mr. Wilson John Barbon, Country Director for Myanmar, were present during the signing ceremony. Meanwhile, the SEARCA delegation also included Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, Program Head for Research and Thought Leadership; Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma, Program Head for Education and Collective Learning; Dr. Nova A. Ramos, Unit Head for Training for Development; Dr. Romeo V. Labios, Operations Consultant for Partnerships; Ms. Corinta C. Guerta, Technical Advisor to the Director; Ms. Beatrisa L. Martinez, Executive Coordinator, Office of the Director; Ms. Ma. Victoria D. Bravo, Executive Assistant for Programs; Ms. Rosario A. Bantayan, Program Specialist for Training for Development; Ms. Leah Lyn D. Domingo, Public Relations Specialist; Mr. Nathan P. Felix, Senior Public Relations Associate; Mr. Sonny P. Pasiona, Senior Communications Associate; and Ms. Maria Teresa B. Ferino, Senior Administrative Associate.
Dr. Gregorio emphasized that “SEARCA is here to join IIRR in influencing local and national and even the regional agenda to mobilize political commitments, funding, and innovation necessary to alleviate poverty in rural areas.”
In response, Ms. Monville-Oro affirmed that partnership and alliance-building for networking is really much needed. She also mentioned that synergism and complementation among organizations is important to leverage on each other’s strengths.
“Thanks for organizing very valuable learning events that had really made impact and generated a lot of learning. And we would want to continue more doing these things,” the IIRR Country Director added.
The SEARCA and IIRR partnership builds on the historical joint interest on sustainable agriculture way back in 1990s. Dr. Cuaresma mentioned that SEARCA through its ECL Department has an ongoing project with IIRR on the development of an online courseware on School-plus-Home Gardens (S+HGP) in Southeast Asia with IIRR. Other partners in the project are the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
Dr. Orencio also shared that his department is planning a regional policy roundtable discussion on S+HGP with IIRR. This learning event will further add to the policy recommendations on how to improve implementation of the project in the Philippines and across the Southeast Asia region.
“With much confidence, this partnership between IIRR and SEARCA will lead us to a better, bigger, and smarter outcomes that are highly relevant now and for the future of our respective stakeholders,” Dr. Gregorio concluded.