SEARCA marks 50th year with alumni awards, homecoming, and other events

  • 24 November 2016

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) marks its 50th anniversary celebration with a series of events topped by the conferment of the Outstanding SEARCA Scholarship Alumni (OSSA) Award to its scholars, who have completed their studies and gone on to lead in their respective fields of specialization, and made significant impacts not only in their spheres of work, but also in their own country and the Southeast Asian region.

Hosted by the Philippine government in the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) through the Department of Education (DepEd), SEARCA is one of the first regional centers of excellence of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), an intergovernmental treaty organization founded in 1965 to promote cooperation in education, science, and culture among Southeast Asian nations. The Philippines is one of the charter members of SEAMEO, whose current membership includes all the 11 Southeast Asian countries. The other 10 countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

Currently headed by Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA was established in 1966 with the mandate to provide capacity-building interventions in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia through its core programs of graduate education, research and development, and knowledge management. These programs are currently focused on the overarching theme of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD).

The OSSA Award will be conferred on 11 exemplary products of the Center's graduate (PhD and master’s) scholarship program over the past five decades. The OSSA awardees are five Filipinos, two Thais, two Indonesians, one Malaysian, and one Vietnamese. A Cambodian and a Timorese will also receive the Emerging Leaders in Transition Economies (ELITE) Award. The awards ceremonies, to be held on 25 November 2016, will also be occasion for the launch of a coffee table book titled Golden Harvest: Leaders and Innovators of Agricultural and Rural Development in Southeast Asia, which features the life’s work of the OSSA and ELITE awardees.

A public forum will also be held after the awards ceremonies. Two of the OSSA awardees—Dr. Delfin J. Ganapin, Jr. of the Philippines and Dr. Musliar Kasim of Indonesia—will speak about their experiences in public policy and governance.

A grand alumni homecoming to take place in the evening at SEARCA’s headquarters will wrap up the day’s festivities. Former SEARCA officials and staff are all invited to the event.

To cap its golden anniversary celebration, SEARCA will tender a reception for its numerous donors, partners, and collaborators over the past 50 years. The event will be held in Manila on 6 December 2016.

Since the start of its fiscal year in July 2016, SEARCA has been conducting activities to commemorate its 50th anniversary. These included the launch of the SEARCA-DepEd-UPLB School Gardens Program; the conduct of six international and regional workshops and conferences; the launch of the ISARD Piloting Project’s demonstration farms in the Philippines; the launch of the 10th SEARCA Southeast Asia-wide Photo Contest; and the conferment of the Dioscoro L. Umali Achievement Award in Agricultural Development (in honor of SEARCA's founding director) on Mr. Tin Htut Oo, distinguished economist from Myanmar, who is the first Myanmar national and only the fifth to receive the prestigious award.