PH, TW fellows delve into SEARCA research, innovation initiatives

SIXTEEN Taiwanese and Filipino Project Lakbay fellows delve into the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture's (SEARCA) education, research and innovation initiatives during their visit to SEARCA headquarters in the University of the Philippine Los Bañõs (UPLB) campus on Jan. 17, 2024.

Together with the UP Open University (UPOU and Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association (ECSAA) staff, the visitors were accompanied by Dr. Eing Ming Wu, ECSAA-Taiwan managing adviser, UP Diliman National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) visiting professor and SEARCA senior fellow.

Project Lakbay, which stands for Learning Actively through Knowledge-Based Appreciation for Youth, is an initiative by the UPOU Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) and ECSAA-Taiwan. It is a youth cultural and learning immersion camp aimed at enhancing youth awareness and active participation in global sustainability programs.

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said Dr. Maria Cristeta Cuaresma, SEARCA Education and Collective Learning Department (ECLD) senior program head, and Jerome Cayton Barradas, SEARCA Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD) project coordinator briefed the Project Lakbay fellows on SEARCA's mandate, its 11th Five-Year Plan, and its core programs.

Cuaresma presented ECLD's projects and activities focusing on graduate scholarships, institutional development assistance, technical training, and learning events.

She also emphasized the Southeast Asian University Consortium (UC) for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources grants and activities which Wu expressed keen interest in UC and encouraged SEARCA to extend invitations to Taiwanese universities.

On the other hand, Barradas shared RTLD's initiatives in conducting relevant research in agricultural and rural development, collaborating with relevant organizations and institutions in on-the-ground interventions, and implementing support programs and knowledge platforms.

He also noted some RTLD projects which include the School-Plus-Home Garden Project (S+HGP) in Laguna and its offshoot projects.

These were the S+HGP cum Biodiversity Enhancement and Enterprise (SHGBEE) in Palawan and Cambodia and the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4) in Rizal; the Coconut and Calamansi Roadmapping project; and the Consortium for Agricultural Development, Research and Extension.

Also introduced RTLD support programs were the International Foundation for Science or IFS-SEARCA Mentorship Program for Advanced Grants which Wu inquired about its eligibility requirements and suggested involving Taiwanese university professors as mentors.

Barradas also introduced the Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources (AFNR) Knowledge Platform, a knowledge generation to knowledge utilization community of practice which Wu agreed to its directions and commended its integration of a social learning component.

The visitors were also acquainted with SEARCA's Emerging Innovation for Growth Department.

The visitors were welcomed by the SEARCA delegation led by SEARCA deputy director for administration Joselito Florendo with Cuaresma, Barradas and Ma. Victoria Bravo, executive assistant, Office of the Deputy Director for Programs.

Meanwhile, Wu also invited SEARCA to collaborate with UPOU and ECSAA in future Project Lakbay initiatives.