AIT dean visits SEARCA for collaboration

THE Thailand-based Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) expressed its intention to collaborate with the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in the field of agriculture and scholarship.

Dr. P. Adbul Salam, AIT School of Environment, Resources and Development dean, visited SEARCA on May 26, 2023 to better understand the center's undertakings, particularly its graduate scholarships and agricultural innovations.

Dr. Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, said the AIT through Salam expressed interest in becoming eligible for membership in the SEARCA-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium (UC) for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources.

"The meeting with AIT also explored potential collaboration on faculty mobility and agricultural technology," Gregorio said.

Also during the meeting, Dr. Maria Cristeta Cuaresma, SEARCA Education and Collective Learning Department senior program head, introduced the membership application process and other pertinent information relevant to AIT's accreditation to UC.

Salam said his visit to SEARCA was to express AIT's intention to apply for a full membership to access benefits, such as regional exchange and networking among UC member universities.

Cuaresma also introduced SEARCA's Leveling-Up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries, and Natural Resources (LevelUPHEI AFAR) project.

She also suggested that SEARCA send selected faculty members from the 75 State Universities and Colleges-Association of Colleges of Agriculture in the Philippines or SUC-Acap members to AIT which Salam warmly received.

Cuaresma said the recommendation would be implemented under the mobilities component of the LevelUPHEI AFAR project.

The visiting academic official noted that SEARCA and AIT could also explore short-term engagements such as research and academic fellowships.

SEARCA's initiative on Rice Straw Biogas Hub (RSBH) which is a three-year joint venture funded by Innovate UK was also shared during the meeting by Lichelle Dara Carlos and Imelda Batangantang, both program specialists from SEARCA's Emerging Innovation for Growth Department.

With the aim to generate biogas as clean energy from waste rice straw and provide innovative technology services for rice farmers, the RSBH project is led by a United Kingdom (UK)-registered startup, Straw Innovations, in collaboration with SEARCA, the UK SME Koolmill, and UK academic partner Aston University.

Carlos also noted that the RSBH project's next phase would be to explore other large-scale innovations to convert energy from the collected rice straw pellets.

Salam shared his interest to be part of the project and help SEARCA promote the use of climate-smart good agricultural practices.

He also expressed that AIT could be a partner for the next Roundtable Discussion Series on Sustainable Food and Agriculture Systems in Southeast Asia or any international conference focused on natural resource management.

Recently, SEARCA led a Roundtable Discussion Series in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.