FORMER Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cielito F. Habito will chair the second International Conference on Agricultural and Rural Development in Southeast Asia (ARD2014) to be held on November 12 and 13 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
Sponsored by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), ARD2014 has been described by Searca Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. as crucial to the forthcoming integration of the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) by year-end of 2015.
“Strengthening Resilience, Equity, and Integration in Asean Food and Agriculture Systems” is the theme of the conference.
The opening remarks will be delivered by Saguiguit on November 12, followed by the keynote address of President Aquino to be delivered by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan.
Saguiguit said Asean economies are dominated by agriculture and the large rural-farming sector, “where poverty tends to be most prevalent, persistent and most vulnerable to the damage caused by natural disasters, environmental degradation, and climate change.”
“The challenge of promoting agricultural and rural development (ARD) and reducing the incidence of poverty in the agriculture and rural sector is a complex one. An effective pursuit of ARD would thus require a systems perspective of a multidisciplinary nature. There is great value in deepening the knowledge base within the various disciplines and fields of study involved in ARD through constant research and innovation, and periodic expert gatherings,” he said.
Saguiguit said Searca seeks to discuss ARD challenges in Southeast Asia under a wholistic, systems-oriented, multi-disciplinary, and multi-stakeholder perspective starting with ARD2014, nine years after a similar gathering tackled the issue of rural development and poverty from a purely economic perspective.
“With ARD2014, Searca seeks to build on the 2005 conference with a more inclusive knowledge exchange benefiting from the participation of representatives from various disciplines and various stakeholder groups. In so doing, it is envisaged that apart from gaining expanded knowledge from attending the forum, participants would benefit from a broadened perspective from which they perceive and analyze the challenges of the ARD sector, and conceive the approaches to addressing them,” he said.