MANILA, Philippines - The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Council (SEAMEC) recently approved the 10th five-year plan of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
SEARCA is mandated to provide capacity-building interventions to promote agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia through graduate scholarships (doctoral and masteral), research and development, knowledge management, and training.
To date, SEARCA, headed by Gil Saguiguit Jr., has been operating on five-year plans, which set out the center’s vision, mission, and goals; as well as outline its major strategies.
Saguiguit said the 10th plan focuses on inclusive and sustainable agriculture and rural development (ISARD) as an effort to promote trickle-down flow. This means overall growth should be felt at the lower levels, especially by resource-poor farmers.
With social inclusion, growth and development will benefit society’s poor and vulnerable sectors through gainful employment, income, food security, education, health and general well-being.
At the national level, the plan puts focus on science-based studies to guide policy-making or decision-making.
A prime example is the study on smuggling of agricultural commodities. The study was done by a SEARCA-UP Los Baños funded by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research.
The study cited policy implications and made recommendations to mitigate the problems brought about by agricultural smuggling.
The findings touched off Senate hearings initiated by the committee on agriculture and food headed by Sen. Cynthia Villar in an effort to identify remedial measures and policy reforms.
“The center hopes that with this increased focus on emerging problems in the agriculture sector and translation of research findings into policy, it will give value to a research institution like SEARCA,” Saguiguit said.