SEARCA, DepEd renew ties to promote agriculture among learners, educators

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, as well as the Department of Education (DepEd), have inked a memorandum of understanding for institutional cooperation, with SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio and Dr. Leonor Magtolis Briones, who was education chief at that time, as signatories.

They agreed to collaborate on joint research, capacity-building activities, as well as knowledge and information exchange to benefit both local learners and educators.

“We acknowledge the important role of DepEd in the country in promoting agriculture among the Filipino youth,” Dr. Gregorio said during the ceremonial signing.

Graduate-level research integrated into the curriculum of basic education was the call to action of Briones during a virtual event commemorating SEARCA’s 55th year.

“I have expressed interest in translating the results of research and findings of our own scientists, such that of SEARCA, [to use them for basic education, as well as] for lessons that our children can learn from: sciences, arts, and the wonders and beauty of our environment,” said Briones.

“Aligned with DepEd’s mandate as a leader in curriculum and instruction, SEARCA prioritizes youth engagement in agricultural and rural development as one of its seven priority areas geared to accelerate transformation through agricultural innovation,” Dr. Gregorio said. “Thank you for your endless support to SEARCA in pursuit of our mission to uplift the lives of farming families and communities.”

Education Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del B. Pascua said SEARCA and the department “have one common purpose: We want to develop and promote agriculture inside DepEd. And when I say inside DepEd, we hope to conduct training for teachers and administrative personnel to teach the basics of agriculture, and utilize school sites as social laboratories for implementation of agriculture projects and hands-on activities.”

Gregorio affirmed that DepEd’s cooperation with SEARCA is a crucial step to maximize school and human resources, as well as expand networks and mutually shared capacities.

Part of the renewed linkage, SEARCA and DepEd are working to scale up the “School-plus-Home Gardens” project—an initiative by the former that complements the Education Department’s “Gulayan sa Paaralan” (GPP) program.

On July 21 SEARCA conducted a training-workshop on vegetable production for teachers and staff of local government units in Busuanga, Palawan. A total of 46 school heads, GPP coordinators, and agricultural extension workers from the said town and Coron were trained by experts from Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc., one of SEARCA’s partners, to enhance crop production and vegetable-gardening activities to address food and nutrition insecurity, as well as poverty in rural areas.

The training-workshop was a collaborative activity of SEARCA, DepEd, Kansas State University, Salvacion National High School, and Regalo ng Kilit Foundation.