SEARCA kicks off agri innovation plan

AN inter-government treaty organization focusing on agriculture research kicked off the implementation of its 11th five-year plan to push agricultural innovation in a new development strategy shaped after consulting its partners, alumni, staff and external stakeholders.

According to Glenn Gregorio, director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), the new strategic plan sets out the principles and objectives that will guide the organization as it moves toward Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation (Attain).

“Our new development strategy was shaped by Searca’s desire to contribute to the transformation of farmers, who are stuck [with] the belief that farming is limited to production, into new farmers operating in a modern agriculture ecology, that is Agriculture 4.0,” Gregorio said.

He said Searca commits to accelerating the transformation that elevates the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets.

“[Our] transformation efforts for the next five years will focus on policy, institutional, social and technological innovations,” Gregorio explained.

He said the new strategy focuses on agribusiness models for increased productivity and income; sustainable farming systems and natural resource management; food and nutrition security, transformational leadership for agricultural and rural development (ARD); gender and youth engagement in ARD; enhanced ARD towards climate resilience; and eco-health/one-health applications to ARD.

The new plan will be articulated through Searca’s core programs on education and collective learning (ECL), research and thought leadership (RTL), and emerging innovation for growth (EIG), he added.

ECL comprises graduate scholarship and institutional development and training for development, while RTL leads research for development, policy and program advisory, and agriculture, forestry, and natural resources knowledge platforms. Finally, EIG will provide farmers and farming families wider access to innovative products and services as well as business models for increased productivity and income through open innovation and agri-incubation; knowledge and technology transfer; and project development, monitoring and evaluation.

“To address global challenges for a better and more sustainable future for all, Searca’s development agenda aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Gregorio said adding Searca will contribute and allocate resources toward the achievement of SDGs such as SDG 2: Zero Hunger; SDG 4: Quality Education; SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 13: Climate Action; and SDG 17: Partnerships.

As Searca tries to achieve the five SDGs, Gregorio said it also touches SDG 1: No Poverty; SDG 2: Gender Equality; and SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, which are directly aligned with Searca’s mandate and focus with greater emphasis on partnerships.

“Searca governance shall bring about greater participation among the member- countries and will pursue gender balance and inclusion of the younger generations to draw from a more diverse pool of culture and ideas towards meaningful teamwork in pursuit of its mission,” Gregorio said.