SEARCA draws in Taiwan for agriculture, rural development in Southeast Asia

  • 18 February 2018

Source: BusinessMirror
18 Feb 2018

Taiwan officials explored with visiting high-level delegates from a Philippine-based Southeast Asian research center possible collaborations in research, graduate education and institutional development and knowledge management initiatives.

The Taiwan Council of Agriculture (COA) Executive Yuan, National Taiwan University (NTU) and the Taiwan-based Food and Fertilizer Technology Center (FFTC) discussed with officials from the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), led by Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., areas of common interest and priority concerns that will be the basis for collaborations.

SEARCA's visit to these major agriculture-focused institutions in Taiwan was on the heels of separate visits of NTU and COA officials to the center in 2017 as they sought to renew ties with SEARCA in light of the Taiwanese government's New Southbound Policy which seeks new regional partners to enhance economic cooperation, talent exchange and resource sharing between Taiwan and 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australasia.

COA and NTU are pivoting their expertise and resources to benefit developing countries in the Southeast Asian region in support of the New Southbound Policy. As such, they are looking at SEARCA as a major partner and a window to the region.

SEARCA is mandated to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development in the ASEAN countries, plus Timor-Leste, through its core programs on graduate education and institutional development, research and knowledge management.

On the other hand, COA is the authority in Taiwan on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, animal husbandry and food affairs, while NTU is the most prestigious university in the country with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen among its alumni.

In a planning workshop held early this month, NTU and SEARCA agreed to support scholarships for MS and PhD in biotechnology tenable at NTU's Institute of Biotechnology.

Moreover, both institutions are interested in jointly developing and offering training course on sustainable ecological environment, bio-fertilizers, plant factories and biotechnology regulations and policy-making, with a view to draw in COA and FFTC into the collaboration.

NTU also expressed interest to join the SEARCA-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC). As the consortium secretariat, SEARCA will facilitate conveying such interest and invitation of NTU as observer in the next UC Executive Board Meeting.

In the meantime, NTU will consider possible areas for joint research with SEARCA and the UC members. These may be in food and nutrition security and climate change adaptation and mitigation.