The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Tarlac Agricultural University (TAU) institutionalized their mutual understanding to collaborate in a number of areas of common interest such as education, research, and training.
In a virtual signing ceremony held via Zoom on 14 December 2020, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two institutions was signed by Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, and Dr. Max P. Guillermo, TAU President, with Mr. Joselito G. Florendo, SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration, and Dr. Christina N. Ferrer, External Linkages and International Affairs Director, as witnesses.
Dr. Gregorio emphasized the importance of collaboration and partnership to realize its mission to elevate the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets in this time of pandemic.
“SEARCA aims to collaborate with key players from the academe, which TAU is part of, as well as with industry and government. We do this to bridge the gaps which burden our agriculture producers none other than our farmers and our farming families,” said Dr. Gregorio.
Dr. Guillermo resonated with Dr. Gregorio’s message as he stressed how TAU has always been proactive in its mandate as partnerships bring possible ripple effects to their immediate communities.
“The landscape of education in general has significantly changed over time. As an educational institution, TAU recognizes its responsibility to respond to these changes. Thus, it has always been our advocacy to forge meaningful partnerships with institutions that could help us realize our vision, mission, and goals,” Dr. Guillermo said.
TAU also presented its Sustainable Mechanized Agriculture for Research and Technology (TAU SMART) Agriculture Center where Tarlac’s agricultural arm takes pride in the implementation of climate-resilient crops production.
“The Center aims to carry out its mission of fostering the implementation of smart agriculture in many ways. It will be a platform for forging interdisciplinary research collaborations across disciplines, both within and outside TAU. It will host a seminar series with the goal of sharing research being carried out in the Center, which we hope stimulates new ideas and cultivates new interdisciplinary ideas,” Dr. Ferrer discussed.
Moreover, Dr. Ferrer expressed her appreciation to SEARCA for providing scholarships and grants to their faculty, staff, and students. She also presented possible areas of collaboration between SEARCA and TAU such as joint activities with other agricultural universities in Southeast Asia; training opportunities and guidance to integrate and achieve SDGs in the university along the SEARCA’s 11th Five-Year Plan exchange of scientific materials, publications and information; collaborative research and publications; and dissemination of opportunities for scholarships and trainings.
“SEARCA and TAU will surely build on each other’s strengths and implement joint initiatives that are highly significant for the development of our educators, our farming families, and the youth as the next generation of leaders. We are very grateful for this opportunity to work together,” said Mr. Florendo.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gregorio highlighted that SEARCA is one with TAU in its commitment to improve the agricultural development of the country and beyond. He elaborated on SEARCA’s core program on Emerging Innovation for Growth (EIG). He also expressed his interest in TAU’s sweet potato varieties as he is involved in biofortification of crops.
“We need to give more resistance to our society in this time of pandemic the reason why we provide them nutritious food. SEARCA could assure you that the masses can get these nutrients even in the comfort of their homes,” Dr. Gregorio affirmed.
Other innovative endeavors of TAU include bamboo R&D programs, goat and sheep breeding programs, and the free-range chicken program.
The TAU delegation was composed of Dr. Edmundo B. Baccay, Vice President for Research, Extension and Training; Dr. Noel J. Petero, Vice President for Finance and Administration/OIC Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Arnold E. Velasco, Director for Research and Development; Dr. Yolanda S. Guillermo, Director for Research, Extension and Training; Dr. Edmar N. Franquera, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Forestry; Dr. Leonell P. Lijauco, Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology; and Dr. Ma. Asuncion G. Beltran, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Witnesses to the ceremonial signing from SEARCA included Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma, Program Head for Education and Collective Learning; Dr. Romeo V. Labios, Operations Consultant for Partnerships; Dr. Nova A. Ramos, Unit Head for Training and Development; Mr. Jaymark Warren Dia, Unit Head for Management and Information Systems; Mr. Benedict Juliano, Unit Head for Applied Knowledge and Resources; Ms. Corinta C. Guerta, Technical Advisor to the Director; Mr. Nathan P. Felix, Public Relations Associate; Mr. Sonny P. Pasiona, Communications Associate; and Ms. Maria Teresa B. Ferino, Administrative Associate.