Twenty-three (23) faculty members from ten (10) institutions of the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) participated in the 3rd Faculty Forum with the theme "Agricultural Science for a Better World" held on 19-20 January 2022 and hosted by the Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo-NODAI).
The UC Faculty Forum is an annual event that aims to provide an opportunity for faculty members from UC members to develop camaraderie, encourage transdisciplinary studies, and promote greater integration of research through strategic partnerships for collaboration. This activity is also a way to further strengthen the relationship between and among the UC members which would hopefully lead to collaborative research proposals. The activity was initially proposed by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in 2018 and was first held in 2019 at Los Baños, Laguna.
Due to the pandemic, the conduct of the past two Faculty Fora was done virtually with Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB), Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), UPLB, Kasetsart University (KU), Universitas Brawijaya (UB), Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI), National Taiwan University (NTU) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in attendance. Also attending for the first time are the new affiliate members, Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Visayas State University (VSU), and Maejo University.
Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director and Head of the UC Secretariat, recognized the timeliness of the forum's theme as science-based solutions are greatly needed this time of the pandemic and as the whole world ushers in the new normal. The situation has also brought agricultural education to the forefront and the UC is stepping up and stepping out to push for continuously coping with the changing landscape of agriculture in the region.
Prof. Dr. Shigenori Morita, Department of Agricultural Innovation for Sustainability, Faculty of Agriculture, Tokyo-NODAI delivered his plenary session on Sustainability, Resilience, and Well-being as the final goals of Agricultural Sciences. Prof. Dr. Morita highlighted sustainability, resilience, and well-being to address the dilemma of food, environment, and energy/resources issues while taking into account the growing population. He underscored the interconnectivity of the three where sustainability on its own may not be enough and it should be combined with the concepts of resilience and well-being towards developing a better world.
The Faculty Forum held four sessions spread out during the two-day event. Session 1 was on Agroecology, Food Production, and Sovereignty in Asia. Discussions on this session centered on precision agriculture to improve food production and support food sovereignty, food development for disaster resilience, dairy farming in Thailand, development of conservation agriculture in disaster-prone upland communities in the Philippines, agricultural cooperatives, and the development of sustainable agriculture and agro-industry in Indonesia through bio-refining of coal ash.
Session 2 was all about Land and Water Management for Sustainable Rural Development in Asia. The panelists talked about the impact of natural disturbances on eco-hydrological processes in a mountainous watershed, models of evapotranspirative irrigation, management of rice root nematodes by conservation agriculture, subsurface porous pipe irrigation for Northern Thailand, fall cone and percussion methods in determining the liquid limit of clayey soils, as well as flood risk analysis in the Philippines.
On the second day of the Faculty Forum, Session 3 tackled the Application of Biotechnology for Sustainable Agriculture in Asia. It included a dialogue on the characterization of ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) of oil palm for sustainable crop protection against basal stem rot, improvement of legume production through inoculation with indigenous rhizobia, bioinformatics approaches to utilize Indonesia’s biodiversity, and advancements in organic agriculture.
Session 4 covered Applying UAVs, Satellite, Sensor, and LPWA for Rural Development in Asia. This last session included a discussion on the use of UAV multispectral imaging for precision agriculture, terahertz sensing technology in agriculture, agricultural mechanization technologies for rice production, UAVs and sensors for rural development in Malaysia, weed detection using Multispectral Aerial Derived from Multirotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, and low-cost smart technologies application for rural development in Asia.
The Faculty Forum ended with Prof. Mariko Uehara, Vice-President of Tokyo NODAI, congratulating and thanking the participants for the successful two-day event. The 4th UC Faculty Forum in late 2022 will be held at Central Luzon State University in the Philippines.