SEARCA, PhilRice renew partnership

THE Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has renewed its partnership with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to further address challenges in the country's rice industry.

Under their three-year agreement signed on Jan. 20, 2020, SEARCA and PhilRice will collaborate on joint research, capacity building activities, and knowledge and information exchange, among other activities.

SEARCA had been collaborating with PhilRice, conducting research on improving agricultural insurance to enhance resilience to climate change; estimating the demand elasticities of rice in the Philippines; nature, sources and causes of Philippine agriculture's productivity growth; assessing the Gulayan ng Masa Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA); and value chain analysis of corn in the Philippines and benchmarking the country with other corn-producing nations.

The new agreement was signed by PhilRice Executive Director John de Leon and SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio during SEARCA's presentation of its 11th Five-Year Plan in a seminar titled 2020: A Clear AgriVision for Tomorrow.

The seminar was attended by PhilRice executives and staff as well as students from the Central Luzon State University in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

"SEARCA wants to build transformational leadership," Gregorio said explaining that "in transforming our key partners, they will become the movers in transforming the farmers and the agricultural sector."

Under the renewed partnership, Gregorio said SEARCA is keen on contributing to addressing regional and global challenges related to agriculture, and elevating agricultural families' quality of life.

He said SEARCA will do so by enabling them to access new and innovative financial services​​; to adopt new, sustainable and resilient production technologies and systems; to integrate with modern postharvest and logistics system​​; and to gain access to and operate in modern networks and markets​​.

​On the other hand, PhilRice is mandated to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for the Philippines.

Through its research and development (R&D) work in its central office and stations, PhilRice aims to improve the competitiveness of local rice farmers and the industry.

De Leon said PhilRice also aims to transform the country's rice industry to make it more profitable, resilient and sustainable through responsive, balanced, environmentally sound, and partnership-based R&D and extension.

"[PhilRice and SEARCA] shall work together with other partners like DoST [Department of Science and Technology] and Pcaarrd [Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development] on building more leaders for R&D institutions ready to face the new challenges in rice-based farm productivity," De Leon added.

Gregorio said SEARCA and PhilRice also published a 12-volume monograph series that captured findings of their collaborative project on Productivity Growth in Philippine Agriculture with the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research.

"In this project, the productivity growth in Philippine agriculture was analyzed by measuring and disaggregating the sources of said growth over time using analytical approaches appropriate to Philippine conditions, and identified policy and investment levers that could serve as basis for formulating strategies to promote agricultural growth in the country," Gregorio said.

The results and recommendations of this research may also be used in other countries of Southeast Asia, possibly contributing to agricultural and rural development in the region, he added.