Global journal features West PH Sea heritage

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: An international journal published by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) featured a study on valuing heritage in the disputed West Philippine Sea and other new Southeast Asian studies in its June 2023 issue.

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said the Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD) also presented fresh perspectives on Thailand's and Indonesia's domestic investments in agriculture, Singapore's successful "leapfrogging" model of growth, including three other articles on various Asian countries and two book reviews.

AJAD publishes articles resulting from empirical, policy-oriented, or institutional development studies, as well as articles on perspectives on agriculture and development, the political economy of rural development, and trade issues.

Gregorio said the ongoing geopolitical disputes over the South China Sea, particularly pertaining to the West Philippine Sea, makes the study of Dr. Ben Malayang 3rd and his co-authors relevant — it has recently been included as a reference of the Philippine government's defense for arbitration.

He noted that in "Fisheries Management Areas in the West Philippine Sea and Their Heritage Values," the authors call to urgently protect, conserve, and sustain the "heritage value" of fisheries areas in the face of political and territorial disputes.

The study shows that foreign-fleet poaching is the most concerning threat to fisheries and biodiversity in the disputed area.

With this, Malayang and his co-authors urge for policies and actions that will incentivize investments in ensuring safe access to the fisheries areas, establishing coastal and nearshore protected areas, protecting the livelihoods of registered fishers and communities, and research and development.

In another published paper titled "Economic Returns to Agricultural Research: Thailand and Indonesia," Australian National University Emeritus Professor Peter Warr reiterates how knowledge generated from scientific research helps raise agricultural productivity in developing countries, amid increasing pressures on production resources.

In his study, Gregorio said Warr asked how effective public sector research is in raising productivity.

Evidence that Warr gathered including his subsequent calculations showed that Thailand's and Indonesia's own expenditures have not increased agricultural productivity, owing to lower investments in research compared with other forms of spending.

Thus, the author suggests more public investments in agricultural research, especially for technologies designed elsewhere to adapt to local conditions.

Another paper that was published titled "Agricultural Transformation for Small (Island and Developing) States" was authored by Dr. Paul Teng and Jose Ma. Luis Montesclaros of the Nanyang Technological University Singapore.

Gregorio said Teng and Montesclaros postulate that, for small states, a clearer path to economic transformation may be to develop the urban industrial and service sector first, contrary to the long-held economic transformation pathway model propelled by agriculture.

Gregorio said the authors take the demonstrated successes of Singapore to show that transformation may take a path where agriculture is initially sacrificed in favor of more high-value urban economic activities.

This alternate development pathway emphasizing urban industrialization may serve as a "leapfrogging" model for small cities and small developing states in a contemporary, technology-enabled landscape, he added.

AJAD Volume 20.1 also published the following full research papers and book reviews:

Gregorio said AJAD is particularly keen to publish studies on digital agriculture, food security (amid global shocks), water resources management, international trade and globalization (such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), and agricultural policies and governance.

SEARCA said submissions are welcome all year round through where all the new and past papers published in AJAD are also available for free. Print copies are also available through subscription.

AJAD's editorial board is headed by Dr. Cielito Habito, professor of economics at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines and director of the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development.