LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: A Taiwan-based research and development (R&D) center has partnered with a Philippine government-hosted treaty organization to push for a nutrition-sensitive approach to agriculture and sustainable and diversified cropping systems, and to realize the nutritional and economic potential of vegetables.
With this, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed for institutional cooperation between the Taiwan-based World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) and the Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
The MOU was signed between Fernando Sanchez Jr., PhD, on behalf of SEARCA as chair of its governing board, and Marco Wopereis, PhD, director general of WorldVeg, at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City on November 7, on the sidelines of the International Conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems.
Serving the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries, including the Philippines plus Timor-Leste, SEARCA is mandated to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development through its core programs on graduate education and institutional development, R&D and knowledge management.
On the other hand, WorldVeg, formerly known as Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC), is an international nonprofit R&D institute established in 1971 by seven countries, including the Philippines.
Today, WorldVeg has regional bases in Africa, Asia and Oceania with 44 international scientists and 300 national scientists and support staff dedicated to the mission of alleviating poverty and malnutrition through the increased production and consumption of nutritious, health-promoting vegetables.
"The thread that binds us in this MOU is our common objective to push for a more nutrition-sensitive approach to agriculture and sustainable and diversified cropping systems," Sanchez said.
For his part, Wopereis said WorldVeg is determined to contribute to realizing the nutritional and economic potential of vegetables.
"We can't do it on our own so we're always looking for strategic partners. And I'm so thrilled that we have found SEARCA, a very strong strategic partner for us," he said.
Wopereis added that while WorldVeg hosts the ASEAN-AVRDC Regional Network on Vegetable Research and Development, a network of research institutes in ASEAN, including the Philippines, SEARCA has been the secretariat of the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources, which it established in 1989.
"So by teaming up, SEARCA and WorldVeg will be able access each other's networks, develop joint research programs and organize roundtable conferences to come up with new insights and perhaps also reflect on joint scholarship programs," Wopereis said.
He said it is fitting that the MOU was signed during the recently held International Conference on Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems in Tagaytay City.
"I am convinced that SEARCA and WorldVeg together will contribute significantly to greater diversity of what's on the farm and what people can find on their plates," Wopereis added.