Tokyo NODAI bio-business students learn about SEARCA's agribusiness development programs

  • By Zara Mae Estareja
  • 5 September 2023

Seventeen bio-business students from the Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI), Japan visited the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on 29 August 2023 for a briefing on the Center's programs and activities related to agribusiness development. They were accompanied by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nina Nocon-Shimoguchi of Tokyo NODAI, as well as Asst. Prof. Dia Noelle Velasco and Asst. Prof. Eliza Aquino, faculty members of the Department of Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship, College of Economics and Management, University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Tokyo NODAI bio-business students learn about SEARCA's agribusiness development programs

In the briefing, the students were given a concise presentation of the SEARCA mandate, its 11th Five-Year plan, and its agribusiness development-focused programs and activities.

Atty. Eric Reynoso, program head, Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD), introduced EIGD's ongoing and completed projects. The department is actively engaged in projects on climate action, including Benchmarking of the Agricultural Research for Development (R4D) Management System with Selected Asian Countries, which aims to assess and analyze the R4D coordination and management activities of Asian agriculture and fisheries funding institutions; Rice Straw Biogas Hub, an Innovate UK-funded project, which demonstrates efficient removal of waste rice straw from farmers' fields and conversion into ecofriendly, commercially viable products focusing on biogas; and the Web-based Integrated and Spatial Engine and Smart Ecosystem (WISE) Carbon Farming.

Atty. Reynoso also presented completed projects related to food security, including the successful collaboration with the Jollibee Group Foundation on Strengthening Yield of Allium cepa in the Philippines (Project SAYA) and the formulation of the National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan (2021–2030). He further piqued the students' interest by sharing about the SEARCA Grants for Research towards Agricultural Innovative Solutions (GRAINS), which offers short-term starter funds for collaborative actions.

Moreover, Dr. Gerlie Tatlonghari, program head, Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), highlighted the department's agribusiness development undertakings. These initiatives include the project on Upgrading the Calamansi Value Chain towards Improving the Calamansi Industry of Oriental Mindoro, which intends to address the calamansi industry's technical and market constraints. Additionally, RTLD spearheads the Development of Coconut Industry Growth Areas in the Province of Quezon and the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship.

Lastly, Ms. Loise Ann Carandang, senior associate for communications, Partnerships Unit, presented the 2022 SEARCA Youth Stories centered on the theme "Amplifying Voices of Youth Agripreneurs." The 2022 SEARCA Youth Stories is a video contest under the Young Forces for Agricultural Innovation (#Y4AGRI), the Center's banner youth engagement initiative.

The student delegation was the 33rd batch of Tokyo NODAI students who visited the country as part of their Philippine field practice. For 24 years now, SEARCA has been one of their consistent destinations to learn about tropical agriculture and Philippine bio-business.

The visitors were warmly received by the SEARCA delegation led by Assoc. Prof. Joselito Florendo, Deputy Director for Administration. Joining them in the briefing were Atty. Reynoso, Dr. Tatlonghari, and Partnerships Unit staff.