PH, TW students explore SEARCA innovation, research initiatives

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: Some 40 Taiwanese and Filipino students visited the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on July 10, 2023 to enhance their understanding of the center's influential research and work on climate change, rural development and food security.

SEARCA director Dr. Glenn Gregorio said the visit by these students from the Youth Cultural and Learning Immersion Camp, along with two Taiwanese professors, was an enriching cultural and academic exchange.

The visit was arranged by the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Management and Development Studies under its Project Learning Actively through Knowledge-Based Appreciation for Youth (Lakbay). It was coordinated by Sharon Malaiba, SEARCA unit head for partnerships, who also moderated the program.

The students were accompanied by Dr. Eing Ming Wu, executive director of Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association and chair professor of Shu-Te University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and a SEARCA senior fellow, and Dr. Ching-Mei Lu and was welcomed by associate professor Joselito Florendo, SEARCA deputy director for administration, who also briefed the group about the center and its services.

Also during the visit, lawyer Eric Reynoso, program head of the Emerging Innovation for Growth Department or EIGD, talked about his department's functions, initiatives and projects.

Anna Gale Vallez, SEARCA program specialist at the Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), presented completed and ongoing RTLD projects along the topics of interest to the students.

Gregorio said several student delegates and UPOU staff expressed interest in acquiring more information on SEARCA programs such as the Grants for Research toward Agricultural Innovative Solutions or GRAINS and the RTLD-led project focusing on the coconut industry in Quezon province and other potential commodities and industries which were brought up as potential research areas.

During the event, Wu put forward possible areas for collaboration that SEARCA could consider with UPOU, along with a prospective visit to Kaohsiung, Taiwan and offered to connect SEARCA with experts on smart agriculture.

There were also specific suggestions which included the development of an online course on barangay transformation in close association with UPOU.