Experts: Harness ‘intellectual capital’ of HEIS to boost PHL food security

THE government should tap the “intellectual capital” of higher education institutions (HEI) to boost food security and hasten economic recovery by fostering a “knowledge economy” amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Experts at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) made this recommendation as they noted that developed countries have put up incentives for a “knowledge economy” (KE).

The incentives are meant to meet their people’s needs. Searca said KE accelerates economic growth objectives.

The top 10 countries in 2008 that have high knowledge economic index (KEI) based on the criteria of the World Bank Institute are Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and Australia. Philippines ranked 79.

KEI measures the conduciveness of an environment to use knowledge for economic development. It maximizes use of human capital to enrich productivity and aid in food production and manufacturing and services industries.

“A country like the Philippines needs an adequate cadre of researchers who appreciate the need to shorten the gap between research productivity and its translation to economic development,” according to an Asian Development Bank report titled “Food Security Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic” (FSACP).

“Various modalities of Academe-industry-government interconnectivity models need to be explored.”

The FSACP recommendations are being pushed by Glenn B. Gregorio, Searca director, and Rico C. Ancog who is also with the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Their recommendation is for HEI’S human capital to contribute to the development of the following priority areas relevant to four pillars of food security: food availability, access to food, stability of food supply, and utilization of food for nutrition, health and safety

To foster this advanced KE economic phase, incentives must be given so that the intellectual capital in HEIS (faculty, researchers) can generate commercialization tools that will meet Filipinos’ imminent needs— food security, in particular, amid the pandemic.

Such research must not be done just for academic exercise, according to experts. But studies should fill the needs of society—produce food, solve hunger and malnutrition, help farmers become profitable entrepreneurs.