The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Philippine-based Synergy Group Operations, Inc. (SGOI) formally signed a Letter of Agreement (LOA) on 1 July 2022 at SEARCA Headquarters.
Under the LOA, SEARCA and Synergy committed to develop the capacity of teachers and local government officers by conducting a training on School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) project and provide information, skills, and understanding for properly disseminating the SEL4E concepts and values to students and communities in Rizal, Philippines.
The project has two components, namely, the Trainers’ Training for School-plus Home Gardens Program (S+HGP) and the Home Gardening for Improving the Nutrition and Health of Children and their Families.
Under the first component, a screening process will be conducted to ensure eligibility and qualification. The training is scheduled to be implemented via blended or hybrid mode in February 2023, coinciding with the mid-year break of the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd). For the second component, the scaling up model for the stepwise provincial-wide promotion of the home gardens consists of scoping and organization, capacity building and garden planning and implementation, and strengthening of protocols.
The signatories to the LOA are Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, and Ms. Phoebe Baczynski, SGOI Finance and Administrative Head, with Mr. Joselito G. Florendo, SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration, and Ms. Apprille Rose Acupinpin, SGOI Welfare Manager, as witnesses.
SEARCA and SGOI also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement for institutional cooperation to collaborate in a number of areas of common interest such as education, training, and research.
SGOI started in 2006 as a small ship management company. The group provides end-to-end maritime solutions with tailored services, offering a wide array of technical expertise in ballast water treatment and scrubber systems, information technologies, crew and sailor management, and operational ship insurances, among others.
They partnered with SEARCA to have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project in agriculture and to engage their employees in some of the community activities.
In his opening message, Capt. Krish Mundath, SGOI Director, commended the work SEARCA does and highlighted the role of the youth in agriculture.
“I guess the whole world lives and works because all of you are into research and development of the most basic need of humans, and that is food and agriculture. I think SEARCA’s vision of making farming and agriculture look glamorous to the young is a fantastic idea. They need to be pulled into this and attracted towards in this very basic need because food will certain go short in time,” Capt. Mundath emphasized.
We are happy to have the Synergy Group with us in this project because SEARCA promotes the proactive engagement of industries and government agencies in academe-industry-government (AIG) interconnectivity models of research collaboration and co-sharing of financial resources such as this for the scaling up of our School-plus-Home Gardens Project (S+HGP),” Dr. Gregorio said.
In 2016, SEARCA’s S+HGP was piloted in six schools in Laguna, Philippines with a model where harvests from the school gardens provided fresh vegetables for the school-based feeding program. With the expanded scope of the project in Rizal, SEARCA and SGOI are expected to produce a cadre of trained and committed technical staff from municipal and barangay levels plus teachers and school heads able to sustain and scale up the implementation of the home garden component of the SEL4E.