SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant
AY 2023-2024

Drivers of Agricultural Innovation

Promoting education, research, and community development with Prof. Dr. Orlando Balderama

Prof. Dr. Orlando Balderama, SEARCA regional professorial chair grantee for AY 2023–24, is the vice president for Research and Development, Extension, and Training and professor at the College of Engineering at Isabela State University (ISU). For over 30 years, he has integrated academic, research, and consultancy in his career to promote education, knowledge creation, and community development. His SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant recognizes his contribution to the field and inspires his colleagues at ISU and other higher education institutions in the country to pursue excellence in teaching and research.

Promoting education, research, and community development with Prof. Dr. Orlando BalderamaAfter graduating from ISU in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering degree, the university immediately hired Prof. Dr. Balderama to teach mathematics and engineering courses. His passion for teaching stemmed from his experience during review classes with his classmates and his part-time job as a math tutor. After some reflection, Prof. Dr. Balderama realized that becoming an educator was the ideal career path for him as his talents can directly and significantly contribute to human development. His passion for teaching further inspired him to pursue graduate education in some of the best universities globally. As a lifelong learner, he obtained his MS from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand and his PhD and postdoctoral degree in Water Resource Engineering from the University of Tokyo in Japan.

From his journey as an instructor to university professor, Prof. Dr. Balderama has dedicated himself to mentoring the younger generation and leveraging his expertise in research studies and community initiatives. He contributed to ISU's improved ranking at 11th place in engineering research out of 95 universities based on IRIS University Research Rankings Philippines. To accomplish this, he generated a research and development budget of over 103.5 million pesos, published 18 hydrological studies in international-indexed and local journals, and organized national and global forums for large-scale partnerships and linkages. All these are part of the university's plan to transform ISU into a leading institution engaged in science, technology, and innovation (STI).

Promoting education, research, and community development with Prof. Dr. Orlando Balderama

Besides his work as a professor, Prof. Dr. Balderama is an agriculture and biosystems engineer and consultant in agriculture and irrigation engineering/management, water resources, river basin, climate change, and disaster risk management. He has worked on projects that drive innovation in critical sectors and aligned with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals numbers 6 (clean water and sanitation), 13 (climate action), and 17 (partnerships for goals) through the establishment of a strong network of academic and R&D endeavors with ASEAN countries (e.g., Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore), the United States, and numerous national government agencies in the country.

Promoting education, research, and community development with Prof. Dr. Orlando Balderama

Most notably, he has worked on initiatives that help the Philippines achieve its development plan for 2023–28 by establishing the Smart Water Infrastructure Management R&D Center, the first and only niche center in the region for R&D, and the international organization on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction management. As an R&D leader, this was Prof. Dr. Balderama's response to building resilient and empowered communities that can mitigate the impacts of extreme weather conditions and water-related risks in the Philippines and nearby nations.

One of his successful projects was developing a rainfall-runoff inundation model, which the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) adopted to improve dam discharge protocols in Cagayan Valley and mitigate flood impacts on various communities. He also initiated the creation of the regional committee on dam safety protocols and prepared the water security of the Cagayan River basin.

Promoting education, research, and community development with Prof. Dr. Orlando Balderama

During his SEARCA professorial chair lecture, Prof. Dr. Balderama shared insights on using integrated crop modeling tools and smart climate services to address climate change and empower farmers and local government extension services. He chose climate information service in agriculture to enhance appreciation among relevant government agencies on the subject, increase agriculture sector resilience, and boost farm productivity using ICT-based extension services.

He presented a case study on using information and communication technologies (ICT) for corn farming by utilizing combinations of crop simulation and climate modeling, integration of automated crop models, and SMS as decision support to government workers and farmers. He emphasized the need for enhanced feedback mechanisms and engagement platforms to ensure the inclusivity and effectiveness of Climate Information Services (CIS) implementation, particularly for marginalized groups.

Prof. Dr. Balderama envisions a future where the Philippine agriculture sector attains sustainability by leveraging science tools, engineering interventions, and ICT-based climate information services to promote resilience and productivity. He hopes to contribute to this vision by continuing to inspire, mentor, and engage the younger generation who are poised to become scientists and engineers in the future. He would like to encourage them to use science and technology to engage and impact the communities and ensure that scientific developments can be translated into tangible policy actions that lead to sustainable development.

Promoting education, research, and community development with Prof. Dr. Orlando Balderama

The SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant has been acknowledging the contributions made by Southeast Asian institutions and individuals through instruction, research, and extension work in the field of agriculture and its related sciences since AY 2012–13.