SEARCA trains 24 SUCs on crafting winning research proposals

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) conducted an online training-workshop for 24 state universities and colleges (SUCs).

According to SEARCA director Glenn Gregorio, the training-workshop focused on Developing Fundable Research Project Proposals for Transformational Agricultural and Rural Development for Higher Education Institutions (FundableProp4HEIs).

He said the training was implemented in 10 half-day sessions on April 18 to 29 through the SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement Platform with funding from the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

"The FundableProp4HEIs is part of CHEd's Levelling-Up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources (LevelUpHEI AFAR)," Gregorio said.

The LevelUpHEI AFAR project includes mentoring and nurturing members of the SUC Association of Colleges of Agriculture in the Philippines Inc.

During the training-workshop, lawyer Lily Freida Milla, Director 4 of CHEd's International Affairs Staff, said there is a need to beef up HEIs' capacity in producing quality proposals for local and international funding.

Milla said the training-workshop will prepare the participants for the challenges they will face as leaders of their institutions and empower them in their role as contributors and experts in the field of agriculture.

According to Gregorio, the country's eventual return to normal will offer many opportunities for research funding, thus, HEIs should be ready to have "winnable and meaningful" project proposals on hand.

"In view of competing priorities and limited resources, the training-workshop was designed to enable HEIs make their research more appealing to funding agencies towards the greater goal of reshaping agricultural research and development to achieve national and global development targets," Gregorio said.

As such, they can become champions of transformational agriculture and rural development through research projects that promote food security and sustainable agriculture, he said.

FundableProp4HEIs participants were Abra Institute of Science and Technology, Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology, Benguet State University, Camiguin Polytechnic State College, Cagayan State University, Cebu Technological University, Central Luzon State University, Central Mindanao University, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, Guimaras State College, Ifugao State University, Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College, Iloilo State College of Fisheries, Laguna State Polytechnic University, Negros Oriental State University, Occidental Mindoro State College, Partido State University, Southern Luzon State University, Sorsogon State College, University of Antique, University of Eastern Philippines, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), University of Southern Mindanao and Western Visayas State University.

Gregorio said the FundableProp4HEIs which systematically details the process of developing and packaging research project proposals introduced participants to the transformational perspective of the agricultural and rural development paradigm, and developed their skills in project ideas generation and prioritization, project design, and packaging proposals.

"Moreover, the training-workshop intended to enable the participants to serve as transformational managers in the research and development sector," he said.

Gregorio said crucial in the roles of educators and researchers as frontliners for agriculture and education involves bringing forth relevant and timely research outputs that respond to the needs of farmers and the society at large.

The promotion of the academe-industry-government connectivity is also integral to ensure that research produced is translated into useful outputs that stakeholders can benefit from, Gregorio added.

The FundableProp4HEIs was structured into five modules delivered in lectures and workshops.

The first module focused on transformational agriculture and rural development and project cycle management on the drivers and strategies towards innovation and transformation in agricultural development, SEARCA's Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation or Attain strategic framework, and the Project Life Cycle Approach.

Module 2 delved into project ideas generation and prioritization, including key concepts and application of tools in situation analysis, generation, selection, and prioritization of project ideas, while Module 3 covered project design and business canvas formulation. It discussed the tools in project design preparation.

Module 4 tackled project proposal packaging wherein the key elements and desired features of a winning proposal are discussed. It also included helpful tips in project proposal writing, and Module 5 explored the role of project transformational managers in managing the project life cycle toward innovation leading to transformation.

Adjunct Prof. Wilfredo Carada of UPLB College of Public Affairs and Development headed the training team from UPLB as the lead faculty and technical coordinator for the training workshop.

Carada said the modules were designed to walk the participants through the various stages of research project proposal development.