A Southeast Asian regional center based in the Philippines is looking to assist state universities and colleges (SUCs) in building up struggling industries in the agriculture sector.
The first of its partnerships in this endeavor is with Cavite State University (CvSU), a national leader on coffee research and development for almost 15 years, and with which Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is set to renew formal ties with.
While all four coffee varieties—Arabica, Excelsa, Liberica and Robusta—are grown in the country, the Department of Trade and Industry said in its policy brief that the country's dismal coffee production today is akin to that of small-scale producers, like Guinea, Togo and Madagascar.
Through its National Coffee Research, Development and Extension Center, CvSU has been at the forefront of efforts to put the Philippines back on the “coffee belt” comprising the world's coffee-producing giants.
Last year CvSU opened the country's first Coffee Museum in the middle of its sprawling nurseries on campus and led the first National Coffee Education Congress.
CvSU President Hernando Robles and SEARCA scholarship alumnus Dr. Ruel Mojica, CvSU OIC-vice president for Research, Extension, Continuing Education and Training Services, visited SEARCA early this month. They discussed with SEARCA Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. the activities under the new memorandum of understanding between their institutions.
The joint initiatives include capacity-building assistance to CvSU through regular scholarship slots for faculty development, and focused short-term trainings and executive courses to address manpower and expertise needs in consonance with the university's Strategic Plan.
SEARCA has also proposed a benchmarking study on the coffee industry in other countries and policy research to jumpstart and give impetus to coffee enterprises in the Philippines.
SEARCA also gave its commitment to support the first Asean Coffee Education Congress that CvSU will convene in October 2018.
Saguiguit said the collaboration with CvSU is the first step in SEARCA's envisaged cooperation program with SUCs to bolster agri-based industries.
He added that SEARCA plans to meet with the Commission on Higher Education to formalize its proposal for a capacity-building program to benefit both SUCs and the agriculture sector.
He said there is a similar SEARCA initiative to help the struggling calamansi industry in Mindoro Oriental.