UC holds 6th Summer School after pandemic

The Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) successfully offered the 6th UC Summer School at the Banyuwanggi Regency and Malang, Indonesia.

According to Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) headquartered at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), the 6th UC Summer School from November 13 to 17, 2022 was the first activity of the UC to be conducted face-to-face after the pandemic.

SEARCA said the activity has been postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to pandemic restrictions as the virtual conduct of the program will not satisfy the active learning component of the course.

Anchored on the theme "Crop Diversification, Mixed Cropping, and Risk Management in Smallholders' Agriculture in the Context of Climate Change," this year's offering was jointly organized by the Universitas Brawijana (UB) in collaboration with L'Institut Agro of France.

SEARCA said the 6th Summer School course was specifically aimed for the post-graduate participants with the course to collectively build a framework for the assessment of mixed cropping and risk evaluation in smallholders' agriculture, and develop their capacities on integrated sustainability of production systems through active learning.

It said the course was also to examine how strategic choices and the cropping systems adopted at the farm/household level evolve and can uphold their performance in the context of changes related to climate or other regulations.

The UC member institutions include the Institut Pertanian Bogor, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Kasetsart University, UPLB, UB and SEARCA as regular members.

UC associate members include Tokyo University of Agriculture, National Taiwan University, affiliate members Maejo University, Visayas State University, Central Luzon State University, University of British Columbia and Georg-August University of Goettingen; and the past member University of Queensland.

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said 31 graduate students from the UC member institutions and L'Institut Agro attended the summer school. Prior to their arrival in Malang, Indonesia, the participants met twice online to prepare for their upcoming trip.

Gregorio said the students also participated in a three-day seminar at UB in preparation for their fieldwork and spent one week developing a multidisciplinary assessment in Kemiren Village and the Banyuwanggi Regency together with the resource persons from UB and L'Institut Agro.

According to UC, the participants developed a co-learning approach with the local farmers and stakeholders in the villages.

It said investigation tools used during the program were participatory interviews, focus group discussions, and direct measurements of the economic and agronomic performance of the local farms.

Data gathered was then processed and analyzed and the results of the studies were presented on Nov. 26, 2022 during the closing of the UC Summer School, with the UC Executive Board Members in attendance.

A postgraduate course, the Summer School was designed to enhance the understanding of students and other professionals in rural studies, agriculture, and natural resource management on the importance of the interdisciplinary approach in tackling the issue of food and nutrition security in Southeast Asia for sustainable development.