MANILA, Philippines – Preparations are underway for the construction of a Southeast Asian AgriMuseum within the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.
The interactive learning facility will be built by the government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
It will showcase history, science-based knowledge and innovations in agriculture, cross-cultural and cross-ecosystem comparisons, current issues and challenges, and envisioned futures of agricultural and food systems in Southeast Asia.
“This may well be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and is not a museum in the traditional sense, but a learning Center that will educate people on the importance of agriculture and the challenges it is currently facing,” said SEARCA director Dr. Gil Saguiguit Jr.
Saguiguit said the target users of the AgriMuseum are young pupils, decision-and-policy makers, farmers, researchers and media practitioners.
UPLB, SEARCA’s host institution, welcomes the construction of the museum as its students, other constituents, and guests will be among the first to benefit from it.
During their recent visit to SEARCA, Ambassadors Thierry Mathou and Amanda Gorely of France and Australia, respectively, also expressed their support for the learning center.
France and Australia are both associate members of SEARCA’s mother association SEAMEO, which now comprises 11 Southeast Asian countries.
SEARCA has raised about a third of the total estimated cost of the building and is actively seeking sponsorships and similar support for the museum. Inquiries may be addressed to Maria Celeste Cadiz who heads SEARCA’s Knowledge Management department.
Saguigit said “SEARCA sees the learning center as a viable approach to address the declining interest among young people who are much needed by the sector to supplant ageing farmers.”
Earlier reports said enrollment in agriculture degree programs in the country has declined sharply in the past four decades.
In 1980, 51 percent of UPLB’s enrollees took agriculture. The figure went down to 43 percent in 1995 and nosedived to 4.7 percent in 2012.