Summer school on sustainable, resilient food systems convene students from 15 countries

The Summer school on Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems in Vulnerable Areas has attracted students from 15 countries. The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture has coorganized the activity that was held at SEARCA in Los Baños, Laguna, from July 15 to 31 with field work in Camarines Sur from July 19 to 29.

"The summer school was hosted in rotation by the members of the SEARCA-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium [UC] for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources, which includes the University of the Philippines Los Baños [UPLB]," said Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma, SEARCA program head for Graduate Education and Institutional Development.

Other members are universities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada, Germany, Japan and Taiwan. SEARCA serves as the Consortium Secretariat, Cuaresma added.

She said the ongoing course is jointly organized by the UPLB; University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna; Indonesia's Universitas Gadjah Mada, a UC member; and SEARCA.

"This year's summer school is on its fifth offering since UC adopted it in 2015," said Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA director.

He added that "in 2017, the Summer School was first offered as a required course of the Master of Science in Food Security and Climate Change [MS FSCC], a new degree program jointly developed and offered by the UC member-universities with funding from the Erasmus+ of the European Union."

"In fact, this summer school is a pilot offering of a two-unit credit course called "Assessment of Sustainability in Agriculture Production and Food Processing Systems" under the MS FSCC," Gregorio said.

The participants include 44 students from UC members and partner universities under the MS FSCC. They come from the Philippines, Cambodia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, the United States and Vietnam.

Also attending the summer school are 25 staff from the UC members and the MS FSCC project.

Speaking before the participants at the opening program, Gregorio said "we have organized this summer school in a way that provides you with live and actual case studies, and experiences of farmers and farming communities in the Philippines."

"We hope that this mode of learning will give you a better understanding of the link between food and nutrition security and climate change, as well as the interdisciplinary and indigenous approaches in addressing the issues that go with it," Gregorio said.