SEARCA boosts IP assets to support agri investments

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is strengthening its ownership of intellectual property (IP) assets to help prop up agriculture investments while ensuring broader wealth distribution among the "poorest of the poor" farmers.

"SEARCA will formulate and establish its intellectual-property policy to ensure that product and technologies reach the intended and ultimate beneficiaries without much financial burden," SEARCA's 11th Five-Year Plan (11FYP) stated.

"Guided by this IP policy, SEARCA will facilitate licensing and transfer of technologies developed by universities to industry players to create products for the marketplace," it added.

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio is advocating the adoption of Agriculture 4.0, a concept for the future of agriculture focusing on the use of big data, Internet of Things (IoT), precision farming and disruptive agriculture for increased business efficiency, according to Proagrica.

"SEARCA will be a gateway to the future of agricultural development as it builds open innovation and open science spaces. These spaces will operate a platform — online and otherwise, systems or modular — of agri-innovations, sustained best practices, emerging agribusiness models and smart disruptive solutions," Gregorio said.

While tapping digital and technology for agriculture advancement, Gregorio underscored that SEARCA is concerned about how benefits would be distributed equally, particularly among poor farmers, as poverty remains prevalent among rural folk in the Philippines, among other Southeast Asian countries.

One strategy in SEARCA's five-year plan, to be implemented up to 2025, is to tap not only private enterprises, but also mass-based, grassroots-based farmers' cooperatives.

Cooperatives can be the best participatory organizational form that could effectively deliver the attainment of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. SEARCA will contribute to providing access to new sources of capital that will allow them to grow and flourish," 11FYP said.

"SEARCA will facilitate access of cooperatives to a new breed of talent that will lead and manage agribusiness enterprises, as well as appropriate, safe breakthrough technologies," it added.

The agency said several of its projects have shown that, while investments in agriculture have increased in the past decades among Southeast Asian countries, wealth distribution, particularly among poor farmers, has been limited.

Such equitable distribution of benefits among the poorest farmers is viable through legal tools and policies that SEARCA is also encouraging to be adopted by government, it added.