SEARCA sets conference on food security

AIMING to attain food and nutrition security, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is holding the Second International Conference on School-plus-Home Gardens cum Biodiversity Enhancement and Enterprise (SHGBEE2) from November 14-17, 2023 in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

"SHGBEE2 will be a venue to discuss lessons, impact stories, strategies, issues, and challenges related to nurturing healthy, biodiverse and entrepreneurial communities," SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said.

He said the event is expected to contribute to a better understanding of SHGBEE as an opportune entry point for schoolchildren, the youth and local communities "to be mindful of their food and nutrition while engaging in biodiversity restoration and protection and harvesting economic benefits from livelihood generation."

Gregorio said SEARCA has partnered with the Central Philippines State University and the Kansas State University to convene SHGBEE2, which springs from a shared vision of "attaining food and nutrition security while promoting sustainable agriculture and restoring biodiversity."

He said over a hundred teachers and researchers from local schools, state universities and colleges and other higher education institutions; policymakers from local government units and personnel from other government agencies are joining the conference.

According to Gregorio, a vital component of SHGBEE2 is having a collective and transformative mindset in attaining local food and nutrition security while maximizing the potential of its synergy with biodiversity enhancement.

He said the conference will focus on four areas, including promotion of food and nutrition security, advancement of people and planet health through sustainable agri-enterprises, biodiversity enhancement and agriculture, and harnessing collective action for SHGBEE.

"The event will feature mobile workshops that showcase studies and practices to increase understanding and appreciation of the indispensability of biodiversity, as well as the need to enhance and conserve it," Gregorio said.

Sustainable food production and local tourism will also be highlighted as alternative sources of income for individual households and the community.

He said SHGBEE builds on the wealth of experience of the School-plus-Home Gardens Project or S+HGP, a SEARCA banner program, the overall goal of which is "to improve the dietary habits and overall nutritional condition of school-age children by enabling and increasing the year-round production of locally adapted vegetables through school and home gardening."