The SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grantees for AY 2020-2021 have been conducting their public lectures online since last year due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic. The grant was awarded on 04 May 2020 to six outstanding experts in the academe from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Kasetsart University (KU) in Thailand, Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) and Visayas State University (VSU) in the Philippines. UPM and KU are founding members of the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) with SEARCA serving as Secretariat. VSU became an affiliate member of the UC this year together with two more Southeast Asian universities.
Dr. Nazmi Mat Nawi (UPM) was the first awardee to conduct his public lecture on 10 June 2020 during the Annual Agricultural Engineering Lecture Series of Universitas Brawijaya (UB) in partnership with SEARCA and UPM. He discussed “Agricultural Mechanization in Tropical Country: Case Study of Malaysia” and shared how agricultural mechanization offers a solution to labor shortages and when properly utilized, it could increase crop productivity as it improves farm efficiency. Dr. Nazmi also presented case studies on oil palm and rice in the context of Malaysia. His latest lecture was conducted on 27 January 2021 during the Research Seminar Series of the Institute of Plantation Studies of UPM. He talked about the latest R&D in mechanization for sustainable oil palm plantation management.
Following Dr. Nazmi’s first lecture, Dr. Anchasa Pramuanjaroenkij (KU) conducted her public lecture on 19 August 2020 at the Chalermphrakiat Sakon Nakhon Province campus, KU. Dr. Anchasa discussed the “Effects of Global Warming to Agricultural Food Production in Thailand”. She shared the impact of global warming and how the community can be strengthened against this through technology.
Dr. Virgilio Julius P. Manzano, Jr. (MMSU) conducted his public lecture on 13 February 2021 during MMSU’s 2021 Virtual Research Congress. Dr. Manzano discussed about “Mainstreaming and Harnessing Precision Farming for Sustainable and Resilient Philippine Agriculture.” He shared about the status of smart farming in the Philippines, existing technologies, as well as his experience, projects, and activities. Dr. Manzano encouraged the attendees to continue creating concepts of “future value” to agriculture as the practice of precision farming must continue.
Dr. Felix M. Salas (VSU) conducted his public lecture on 26 February 2021. He discussed “Innovative Liquid Nutrient Formulations for Improved Yield and Chemical Characteristics of Horticultural Crops under an Aggregate Hydroponic System”. Dr. Salas introduced hydroponics and shared its benefits such as reducing the problems encountered in conventional planting of crops. He encouraged the attendees to practice hydroponics especially for horticultural crops. According to him, vegetable consumption must be advocated for good health and wellness.
The last two awardees from UPM, Dr. Norsida Man and Dr. Shuhaimi Mustafa, conducted their public lectures on 18 March 2021, during the Extension Talk 9.0 (EXTENT9.0) Special Edition – International Webinar on Agriculture and Food. The event was organized by the University Community Transformation Centre – UCTC, Faculty of Agriculture, and Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences in UPM, in partnership with SEARCA.
Dr. Norsida discussed “The Role of ICT-driven Tools and Technologies to Spread Innovation for Adaptation to Climate Change”. She shared the impacts of climate change and the role of ICT in extension work to mitigate these impacts. Dr. Norsida also emphasized the importance of agricultural extension work in discussing climate change-related issues, offering solutions to these issues, and making these solutions available to the farmers.
Dr. Shuhaimi presented “Rapid DNA-based Analytical Techniques to Verify the Authenticity of Halal Food Products”. He introduced the concept of halalan toyyiban in the food industry and then explained the current issues in halal food such as integrity and awareness, misuse of logo, use of doubtful ingredients, new sources of raw materials, and animal feeds. Dr. Shuhaimi also discussed the use of rapid DNA-based halal food analysis and highlighted the importance of laboratory testing to clarify issues and authenticate halal food products which would also complement the audit-based Halal Assurance System (HAS).
Since AY 2012-2013, SEARCA has awarded 44 Regional Professorial Chair Grants in line with its mandate of bringing agriculture and rural development in the region by developing next generation leaders and professionals. For its 11th Five Year Plan, the Center will be awarding individuals in the field of Agricultural Technology/Innovation or to those with outstanding contributions to policies on Agripreneurship, applied towards SEARCA’s seven (7) priority areas. The call for the next SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grants for AY 2021-2022 closed on 28 February 2021 and evaluation is ongoing.