SEARCA grants boost innovative ventures in 5 ASEAN countries

UNIVERSITY of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) announced the latest six recipients and projects of the Grants for Research toward Agricultural Innovative Solutions (GRAINS) in five Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said the six GRAINS recipients from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines received grants ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 each.

Gregorio said the projects tackle farming challenges through emerging solutions, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things or IoT devices, satellite technologies and digital agriculture.

He said the grant recipients will present their projects at the upcoming online GRAINS Agri-Innovation Forum on Jan. 24, 2024, fostering knowledge exchange and inspiration for future applicants.

Indonesian grantee Muhammad Iqbal Djawad is an innovator who harnesses the power of AI to create a smart aquaculture system to attain precision in the rearing conditions of black tiger shrimp.

From the University Putra Malaysia (UPM), Ahmad Fikri Abdullah leverages computer vision to build an intelligent fish feeder device that will cut feed waste and minimize labor for small-scale farmers.

Awis Qurni Sazili, also of UPM, is promoting electroencephalography as a tool for integration into animal welfare and halal meat production.

Khun Ba San of Myanmar is scaling up the reach of the MyFarmer App to help farmers gain access to capital. This funding is crowdsourced from investors focusing on positive social and environmental outcomes.

The Philippines' Mary Grace Gasco exploits satellite data to predict soil moisture and manage water use on farms.

From the Digital Economy Promotion Agency of Thailand, Abhichartbut Rodyoung leads the installation of big weather data networks to provide farmers with accurate forecasts for planning their cultivation, harvesting and processing of products, and mitigating impacts from natural disasters.

Eric Reynoso, SEARCA Emerging Innovation for Growth Department program head, said SEARCA GRAINS is a catalyst for impactful solutions.

"We are honored to partner with innovators in these five countries and more in the future," Reynoso said.

He also encourages researchers, startups, and entrepreneurs "to pursue innovation that benefits farming communities and contributes to the region's agricultural transformation."

Reynoso said those interested in knowing more about the SEARCA GRAINS program and projects can visit