HEI faculty members visit ASEAN universities for benchmarking

MENTORS from four higher educational institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines visited universities within the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) region to conduct research, benchmarking and capacity-building activities funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

They are faculty members from Marinduque State College (MSC), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Romblon State University (RSU) and Western Philippines University (WPU) who also explored collaborations between their home institutions and ASEAN universities, which are members of the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC).

Supported by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Agricultural Research (SEARCA) through its project on Leveling Up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries, and Natural Resources (LevelUPHEI AFAR), the faculty members specific activities are also part of their institutions' growing effort to expand partnerships and strengthen their internationalization.

According to SEARCA director Glenn Gregorio, previous universities that have sent delegates through the project include Nueva Vizcaya State University, University of Southern Mindanao, Visayas State University and Central Luzon State University.

Gregorio said the CHEd-funded LevelUPHEI AFAR project focuses on the capacity development of Philippine HEIs faculty and staff members in the areas of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and agricultural engineering specifically among the State Universities and Colleges-Association of Colleges of Agriculture in the Philippines (SUC-ACAP).

He said the project involves linking Philippine HEIs with international university networks through participation in training programs, summer schools, forums, cross-visits, and faculty and student mobilities, foremost of these international networks is the UC.

One of the faculty members, Dr. Doreen Mascareñas, who is MSC director for extension concluded her one-month mobility at Kasetsart University (KU) in Thailand from August to September 2022. Her activities were geared toward benchmarking KU's best practices which will help MSC's ongoing project on the hatchery development of four culture-potential indigenous freshwater prawns in Marinduque which started in August 2021.

Mascareñas said the project hopes that Macrobrachium species of interest will provide a new commodity for the production of the local fishermen and aims to conserve and protect the remaining indigenous freshwater prawns in the wild and prevent the entry of exotic freshwater prawn species from other areas in the Philippines.

She also participated in the Faculty of Fisheries' research activities such as hatchery and culture techniques of aquatic organisms, pond and hatchery designs, water quality management for aquatic animals, feed technology, and observation of field and laboratory activities designed for the MSC Department of Aquaculture undergraduate students.

Mascareñas met with KU experts to explore collaborative research and possible faculty exchanges in the field of fisheries/aquaculture between MSC which offers an undergraduate fisheries program and KU.

Harvey Dulay, MSC director for research, is another delegate who attended a three-week training program on Applications of Plant Biotechnology for Crop Improvement at KU's Kamphaeng Saen Campus in Thailand in August 2022.

He joined lectures and hands-on demonstration/practice about Ornamental Plant Production by Tissue Culture and Molecular Plant Breeding Techniques at KU which provided access to their Tissue Culture Laboratory, Central Laboratory and Greenhouse Complex, and Applied Microbiology Laboratory for the duration of the training.

Dulay also visited Tropical Vegetable Research Center (TVRC) and the KU-Israel Agricultural Technologies Center, and some fields and farms in the Kanchanaburi and Nakhonpathom area.

Joining seven more grantees from CLSU and UPLB, Dulay continued his mobility activities with the International Summer Course Program on Agriculture and Ecosystem Resilience to Environmental Disaster toward Regional Sustainability at IPB University, Bogor, Indonesia in September 2022.

Dr. Yusof Sucol, UPLB university researcher 2 at the School of Environmental Science and Management attended the Regional Training Workshop on Halal Slaughtering and Certification in Malaysia in August 2022.

The training aims to enhance the capacities of Halal professionals, practitioners, policymakers and other key players and stakeholders on Halal slaughtering and certification.

It also aims to increase the exchange of knowledge and information and explore potential collaborations for further development of the Halal industry in the ASEAN region with an activity to come up with strategies and actions to address the current gaps and challenges in the industry.

Sucol continued with his mobility activities at the Halal Products Research Institute (HPRI) at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia until early September 2022 representing UPLB in the Halal project proposal development in partnership with UPM. He also participated in field experiments on electroencephalogram studies in goats (small ruminants).

Dr. Juniel Lucidos, RSU Planning and Development Office director, recently concluded his one-month faculty mobility in September 2022 at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Visiting facilities related to agriculture, and exploring possible partnerships in instruction, research and extension between RSU and UGM, Lucidos joined knowledge-sharing about the BS Agriculture Program and other agriculture-related academic program offerings of UGM, presenting RSU's BS Agriculture Program in the context of island-based agriculture education, observing the best practices of UGM.

Anastacio Cagabhion 3rd, WPU instructor at main campus in San Juan, Aborlan, Palawan started his seven-month mobility at IPB University in Bogor, Indonesia in September 2022. He researched "Isolation and Characterization of Bioactive Peptides from Fermented Goat's (Capra aegagrus hircus) Milk using Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus fermentum Strains."

For his research, Cagabhion is guided by Prof. Dr. Irma Isnafia Arief of IPB University Faculty of Animal Science and hopes to improve his home university's Food Processing Center and maximize Palawan's rich natural resources and indigenous commodities through the research attachment.

Gregorio said SEARCA's LevelUPHEI AFAR project continues to match faculty and staff members from SUC-ACAP with UC for various mobility activities.