SEARCA's EIG program seeks collaboration

TO help Filipino farmers discard their obsolete ways, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has unveiled a new program, called Emerging Innovation for Growth (EIG).

According to SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio, EIG is powered by SEARCA's "innovEIGhts" model of fostering collaboration among the academe, industry and government.

EIG is the flagship program in SEARCA's 11th Five-Year Plan that is focused on "Accelerating Transformation through Agricultural Innovation," or ATTAIN.

"The challenging task of [weaning away] our farmers from obsolete ways of farming that is limited to a production perspective toward an agribusiness mindset in an innovative agriculture ecology called 'Agriculture 4.0' requires working together with partners and organizations who share this goal," Gregorio said.

The program was launched on Wednesday via the SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement (Solve) platform in a public event called "Launching ATTAIN Agri 4.0."

During the launch of innovEIGhts, the keynote speakers who took part were prominent personalities in agribusiness incubation and agritechnology transfer: Ana Margarita "Ginggay" Hontiveros-Malvar, senior adviser for GoNegosyo AgriPreneurship; and Paco Magsaysay, the chief executive officer of Carmen's Best Ice Cream.

Rico Ancog, SEARCA EIG program lead, said innovEIGhts called for institutional partnerships across Southeast Asia and beyond to foster an open collaboration culture that harnesses the power of engaged minds to co-create innovative solutions to transform the lives of farmers and farming families.

He added that innovEIGhts consisted of component tools that partners could draw upon for designing initiatives and scaling them up to ATTAIN Agri 4.0.

These include "Index," which is the research and information arm to measure and ensure the impact of innovation initiatives on the well-being of farming families; "Serves," which provides hands-on technical advisory for farming community livelihood projects and practical innovative solutions to persistent farming challenges; and "iDeates," which focuses on agri-innovation competition engaging the youth, children, students and brilliant minds to modernize agriculture and build local rural innovation ecosystems.

Other components are "Blocks," which is an open, shared-service hub promoting locally adaptable agritechnologies, prototypes and practices for small farmers and rural communities; "A4Life," which builds local and community-based innovation ecosystem and inclusive agribusiness value chains to produce a generation of green startups and agripreneurs; and "Space," which is a powerful innovation and open collaboration regional gateway for agri-incubation and technology transfer information, programs, resources and networks.