HEIs R&D priorities key to food security amid pandemic – agri experts

Two experts in the field of agriculture point to the critical role of universities and colleges in undertaking research and development (R&D) initiatives that contribute to food security during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Glenn Gregorio and Dr. Rico Ancog authored a paper titled, “Food security amid the COVID-19 pandemic: research and development priorities for Higher Education Institutions in the Philippines and Southeast Asia,” published in the Central Mindanao University (CMU) Journal of Science.

Gregorio is Director of Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and Ancog is Operations Consultant for Emerging Innovation and Growth, also of SEARCA.

“The needed transformative change in the agricultural food systems would stem right at the hallowed halls of the universities and colleges,” the experts explained.

They noted the strategic position of higher education institutions (HEIs) to pursue projects and initiatives related to food security and their agility in designing their curricular and extension programs to produce professionals who can actively engage in achieving food security goals.

They said HEIs are expected to up the ante in knowledge generation and scientific productivity as agriculture remains a major engine of economic development in most Southeast Asian countries.

Gregorio and Ancog also saw the need to reorient the agricultural research themes and modalities already in place from a business perspective to afford a systemic change in the agriculture sector.

“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,” the authors explained, adding that the “challenges in terms of research funding due to Covid-19 is already imminent but innovations in fiscal and research implementation abound.”

“At the current scenario, various modalities of Academe-Industry-Government interconnectivity models need to be explored so it can be customized to their specific needs,” Gregorio said.
Both stressed that “HEIs can do aspire to contribute beyond—toward an economic development that is sustainable, inclusive, environment-friendly, and most importantly, resilient to current and future pandemics.”

“Publishing our work in the CMU Journal of Science is SEARCA’s way to show support to the journals of state universities and colleges,” Gregorio noted.

Their work was published in Volume 23, Issue No. 2, July 2, 2020, of the CMU Journal of Science, a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal accredited by the Commission on Higher Education, where research outputs in the fields of natural sciences, mathematics, engineering and social sciences from local, national and international contributors.