31 Filipinos train on cage-free egg production

THIRTY-ONE participants representing 19 members of the State Universities and Colleges-Association of Colleges of Agriculture in the Philippines (SUC-ACAP) have undergone training in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on cage-free egg production.

The training was organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) with the Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) Faculty of Animal Science offering the International Training on Cage-Free Innovation and Welfare Hub (ITCFIWH).

Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, said the weeklong training from July 9 to 15, 2023 was aimed at equipping attendees with knowledge on best practices for cage-free egg production, ensuring safety and nutritional quality, and promoting sustainable farming practices for environmentally responsible agriculture.

Gregorio said the program was developed in collaboration with Global Food Partners (GFP), a Singapore-based multinational consultancy firm that specializes in providing support and expertise to farmers and industry stakeholders to transition to best-practices cage-free egg production in Asia.

The training consists of a comprehensive curriculum featuring theoretical and practical sessions to facilitate a thorough understanding and hands-on experience for the participants, he added.

Budi Guntoro, dean of UGM College of Animal Science, welcomed the participants during the opening ceremony and provided an overview of the training program.

Guntoro said the UGM Faculty of Animal Science is committed to staying abreast of the latest trends in the livestock industry.

GFP Chief Operating Officer Jayasimha Nuggehalli said the GFP is dedicated to establishing an ecosystem that supports the successful transition to cage-free production and sourcing in Asia.

According to SEARCA, the training is also aimed at fostering a network of regional experts trained in high-welfare cage-free production, and who will be instrumental in supporting local egg industries in implementing new learnings and accelerating the adoption of cage-free production and sourcing throughout the region.

Meanwhile, Blessie Saez, SEARCA Education and Collective Learning Department senior program associate, emphasized the significance of knowledge-driven growth, particularly for the sustainability and development of academic institutions.

"These types of learning events greatly contribute to the quality of teaching and learning, benefiting not only the students and the higher education institutions but the entire region as well," Saez said.

Gregorio said the International Continuing Professional Education grants from the Commission on Higher Education provided financial support for the delegates' participation in the training through SEARCA's Leveling-Up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources (LevelUPHEI AFAR) project.

The LevelUPHEI AFAR project focuses on enhancing the capacity of faculty and staff members in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and natural resources.

"This project involves connecting Philippine HEIs with international university networks through various initiatives, including training programs, summer schools, fora, cross-visits, and faculty and student mobility," Gregorio said.

Among and foremost of these networks is the Southeast Asian University Consortium (UC) for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources in which UGM is a founding member while SEARCA serves as the consortium secretariat.

In addition to the ITCFIWH, Gregorio said SEARCA will continue to support SUC-ACAP member universities in their participation in upcoming learning events organized by UC members in August and September this year.

Gregorio said these events will cover specialized courses on topics such as the halal industry, bioinformatics skills for plant and animal whole genome sequencing data, natural resources and environmental management science, tropical agricultural environment toward regional sustainability, ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and aquatic animal nutrition and feed manufacturing.