Cambodia Hosts SEA Centre Governing Board Meeting

Cambodia hosted the 71st Governing Board Meeting (GBM) of the Philippines-based Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in Siem Reap province late last month with H.E. Dr. Touch Visalsok, Secretary of State, Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MoEYS), Kingdom of Cambodia, among the Cambodian high officials present at the opening ceremony.

Visalsok represented H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the MoEYS, as the guest of honour.

According to a press release of SEARCA issued this morning, Visalsok, who is also a SEARCA alumnus, delivered a message highlighting the importance of the Centre's contribution to the development of human resources in agriculture in Southeast Asia.

"The role of SEARCA in the development of agriculture in Southeast Asia is very crucial, especially in terms of building human resources in the field of agriculture. SEARCA's scholarship programme has allowed thousands of Southeast Asian nationals to contribute to advancing agricultural research and fostering regional collaboration," Visalsok said.

Mr. Ty Channa, Director of the Department of Personnel and Human Resource Development (PHRD) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) and a former SEARCA GB Member, was also present and received recognition for his invaluable contribution to the Centre.

Also present at the opening formalities were Dr. Ngo Bunthan, Rector, and Dr. Seng Mom, Vice Rector, both of the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA). They have also previously fulfilled the role of Country Representatives of Cambodia in the SEARCA Governing Board, with Dr. Bunthan serving from 2011 to 2017 and Dr. Mom from 2017 to 2020. Currently, Cambodia is represented by Dr. Huon Thavrak, Vice-Rector of RUA.

The SEARCA Governing Board Meeting for this year took place at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort, marking a significant departure from the tradition of holding the annual meeting within SEARCA's host country, the Philippines, for the first time in five years.

During the opening ceremony, Dr. Glenn Gregorio, Centre Director of SEARCA, reflected on the challenges encountered while implementing the 11th Five-Year Plan (2020-2025) amid the pandemic.

"Now better, bigger, and smarter, with your continued support, SEAMEO SEARCA will not only weather challenges but also thrive in the ever-changing landscape of Southeast Asia. Together, we will create a future where the region's agriculture sector is not only adaptable and resilient but also a beacon of progress for all," Gregorio said.

University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Chancellor Jose Camacho, Jr., who serves as the Philippines' representative to the SEARCA Governing Board, acknowledged the vision of the UPLB officials who established SEARCA. He expressed confidence that their foresight in creating SEAMEO SEARCA as a significant institution for agricultural human resource development has been validated by the current achievements in agricultural transformation.

"Today, in this 71st GB Meeting, we will not only talk about the challenges and issues that confront SEAMEO SEARCA in its operation, but we will continue the dialogue toward greater partnerships and collaboration for the sake of our future generations and this region," Camacho said.

As the primary governing body of SEARCA, the Governing Board conducted a comprehensive assessment of the Centre's performance for Fiscal Year 2022/2023, concentrating on its regional activities and financial resources. With Camacho as Chair, GB members actively engaged in the annual meeting. They offered valuable insights and direction on enhancing SEAMEO SEARCA's programmeds to effectively address the agricultural challenges within the region.

Under the chairmanship of Camacho, the Governing Board members actively participated in the annual meeting, providing valuable insights and guidance to improve SEARCA's programmes in addressing regional agricultural challenges.

Other GB members present were Dr. Suhaimi bin Haji Abdul Wahab representing Brunei Darussalam; Dr. Somphong Chanthavong from Lao People's Democratic Republic; YBhg Prof. Dr. Nazamid bin Saari from Malaysia; Dr. Ye Tint Tun representing Myanmar; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chew Fook Tim representing Singapore; and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sutkhet Nakasathien from Thailand. The GB Member from Indonesia, Prof. Dra. Tjitjik Sri Tjahjandari, joined the meeting virtually. The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) Secretariat (SEAMES) Director, who serves as an ex-officio member, was represented by Ms. Pintip Iamnirath, Deputy Director for Administration and Communication.

Elected for a two-year term at the end of the meeting were Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sutkhet Nakasathien of Thailand as the new SEARCA Governing Board Chair, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chew Fook Tim of Singapore as Vice Chair, and Dr. Somphong Chanthavong as Chief Rapporteur. By C. Nika, Published by: Korn Chamnan