NegOcc and US universities, SEARCA to hold int'l conference on school gardens

KABANKALAN CITY— The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has partnered with the Central Philippines State University and the Kansas State University to convene the Second International Conference on School-plus-Home Gardens cum Biodiversity Enhancement and Enterprise (SHGBEE2) in this city on 14-17 November 2023.

Over a hundred teachers and researchers from local schools and higher education institutions, policymakers and other government staff, and partners from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations in the Philippines and neighboring countries are expected to participate in the conference.

Dr. Glenn Gregorio, Center Director of SEARCA, said SHGBEE2 will discuss lessons, impact stories, strategies, issues, and challenges related to nurturing healthy, biodiverse, and entrepreneurial communities.

"This initiative aims to enhance comprehension of SHGBEE, positioning it as a strategic gateway for students, young individuals, and local communities to cultivate awareness regarding food and nutrition," Gregorio said.

He added that the conference encourages active involvement in the restoration and safeguarding of biodiversity, fostering economic gains through the generation of sustainable livelihoods.

"A key element of SHGBEE2 involves fostering a united and transformative mindset to achieve local food and nutrition security. This includes fully tapping into the synergies with biodiversity enhancement and kickstarting sustainable agri-enterprises for the community," Gregorio explained.

The conference will focus on four areas, namely, promoting food and nutrition security, advancing people and planet health through sustainable agri-enterprises, biodiversity enhancement and agriculture, and harnessing collective action for SHGBEE.

Moreover, the conference will feature mobile workshops that showcase studies and practices to increase understanding and appreciation of the indispensability of biodiversity, as well as the need to enhance and conserve it.

Sustainable food production and local tourism will also be highlighted as alternative sources of income for individual households and the community.

Gregorio said SHGBEE leverages the rich experience gained from SEARCA's School-plus-Home Gardens Project (S+HGP) piloted in Laguna, Philippines. S+HGP's overall goal is to improve the dietary habits and overall nutritional well-being of school-age children by enabling and increasing the year-round production of locally adapted vegetables through school and home gardening.