SEARCA, IIRR partner for rural, agri initiatives

THE Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has forged an agreement with the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) as part of its advocacy to champion of excellence in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia.

Glenn Gregorio, SEARCA director, said a memorandum of understating (MoU) was formally signed between SEARCA and IIRR represented by Emilita Monville-Oro, IIRR acting regional director for Asia and concurrent country director for the Philippines, in a virtual meeting last April 6.

IIRR is a nonprofit organization that has been helping to empower rural communities in Southeast Asia, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa.

The signing was witnessed by Joselito Florendo, SEARCA deputy director for administration, and Rene Vidallo, IIRR-Philippines program director.

“SEARCA is here to join IIRR in influencing local and national and even the regional agenda to mobilize political commitments, funding and innovation necessary to alleviate poverty in rural areas,” Gregorio said during the virtual conference.

On the other hand, Monville-Oro affirmed that partnership and alliance-building for networking are much needed, noting that synergism and complementation among organizations are important to leverage on each other’s strengths.

“Thanks for organizing very valuable learning events that had really made an impact and generated a lot of learning. And we would want to continue more doing these things,” she said.

According to Maria Cristeta Cuaresma, SEARCA program head for education and collective learning (ECL), the SEARCA and IIRR partnership builds on the historical joint interest in sustainable agriculture dating back to the 1990s.

Cuaresma said SEARCA, through its ECL department, has an ongoing project with IIRR on the development of online courseware on School-plus-Home Gardens or S+HGP in Southeast Asia with IIRR with the Department of Education and the University of the Philippines Los Baños as partners.

Pedcris Orencio, SEARCA program head for research and thought leadership, also shared that his department is planning a regional policy roundtable discussion on S+HGP with IIRR.

Orencio said this learning event will further add to the policy recommendations on how to improve the implementation of the project in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia.
“With much confidence, this partnership between IIRR and SEARCA will lead us to better, bigger and smarter outcomes that are highly relevant now and for the future of our respective stakeholders,” Gregorio said.