SEARCA kicks off youth program for agri innovation

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on Wednesday kicked off its special program on youth called “Young Forces for Agricultural Innovation” or #Y4AGRI on International Youth Day to bring more youth in agricultural and rural development.

Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director has introduced the #Y4AGRI program during the SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement webinar on “SOLVE Youth Disengagement in Agriculture: Empowering Future Leaders in Southeast Asia” which featured youth leaders from the Philippines, Latin America and Africa.

Gregorio said to show their commitment for the younger generations, their strategic plan for the next five years puts value on youth engagement in agricultural and rural development During the #Y4AGRI kick-off, a contest was also launched which will showcase local food production practices by young people during the pandemic in video format.

Gregorio said the “Youth COVIDeo Contest” will promote youth solutions in food and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic and it is open to Southeast Asians, including Filipinos, aged 15-35 with a group or individual entries, until September 11, 2020.

He said winners in the contest themed “Youth and Locally Grown Food” will receive cash prizes ranging from $150 to $500 and a smart tablet for a special prize. The contest mechanics are published on the SEARCA website

Gregorio noted that #Y4AGRI builds on SEARCA’s decades of experience in training the next generation of leaders in Southeast Asian agriculture through its scholarships and projects for the youth—from school children to young professionals.

“We already have more than 1,800 master’s and PhD scholarships in agriculture and related fields to Southeast Asians have been awarded including 477 Filipinos,” he said.

Gregorio added that SEARCA also led a school-plus-home gardens project that has been sustained in Laguna province by the pilot schools and adopted by other elementary and high schools.

“SEARCA is now also bringing the S+HGP to Palawan province with a weekly e-training on school and home gardens cum biodiversity for teachers, program coordinators, parents from the seven pilot schools and staff from the local government of Busuanga and Coron that runs from July 17 to September 3,” he said.

Sonny Pasiona of SEARCA noted during the SOLVE webinar that their youth program aims to elevate the interest of young people to venture into and pursue careers in agriculture and allied fields.

He said SEARCA’s youth program intends to enhance the individual, social and technological capacities of young people through formal and non-formal education in agricultural innovation and food systems.

According to Gregorio, the #Y4AGRI is a platform for young people to be heard, engaged and to be partners in attaining better, bigger, and smarter solutions for farmers and farming families.

With this, he said their youth program will also engage the youth in knowledge generation and policy dialogues on agricultural and rural investments.

Forthcoming #Y4AGRI activities include learning events, recognition of outstanding youth leaders, policy dialogues, social media campaigns and partnership building to advance youth integration in agricultural and rural development.

SEARCA was in 1966 and its main mandate has been to build capacities in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia.

For the next five years from 2020 to 2025, SEARCA’s programs are geared towards ATTAIN (Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation) to elevate the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets.