Research and Development Program

SEARCA's Research and Development (R&D) Program fosters an environment of evidence-based investigations, action research, a culture of continuous learning, and holistic and participatory development interventions through partnership and collaboration.

The constantly changing environment - biophysical, socio-political, and economic – and the complex and interlinked need for food and nutrition security, poverty and hunger alleviation, market and economic integration, among others, compel SEARCA to steer research towards inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD). Growth and development should benefit and empower the poor and vulnerable sectors and should be achieved while maintaining the integrity and usefulness of the natural environment.

SEARCA's R&D Program aims to generate knowledge, lessons, and insights that will influence policies, investments and other actions towards ISARD. It will involve stakeholders in ARD—from communities to institutions to policymakers, with a view to enriching policies and decisions by employing tools of science.

SEARCA's R&D Program takes a leadership role in promoting ISARD by undertaking and coordinating research projects, policy roundtables, conferences, and other fora. Furthermore, the R&D Program spearheads the implementation of research and travel grants, fellows programs, and a regional achievement award in agricultural development.

Moreover, the Center is proactively offering its organizational resources to support ASEAN in light of the regional economic integration. SEARCA's support are mainly through the conduct of studies and the organization of policy dialogues.

Research Projects

For its Tenth Five-Year Plan (FYP) 2014-2019, SEARCA's research activities focus on the following areas:

SEARCA's research, while continuing to be aimed at supporting policy, also invests in ground level interventions to improve the lives of farmers and rural communities. The R&D Program does this through the Pilot testing and up-scaling of effective models of ISARD. Such action research is a rich source of empirical knowledge and practical lessons on the dynamic processes of introducing and managing planned social change.

SEARCA uses the umbrella framework approach to develop and implement integrated agenda for collaborative research, capacity development, and knowledge management on crosscutting strategic concerns. There are two umbrella programs under SEARCA's 10th FYP, namely:

SEARCA likewise continues to conduct research studies that are evidence-based, comparative, scoping, and integrative, including among others the following:

The Center has recently concluded projects including: A Participatory Action Research on School- and Community-based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development; Value Chain Analysis of Carabao and Carabao-based Products in the Visayas and Mindanao; and National Action Plans for Mitigation in Rice: Comparative Assessment of Institutional Setting and Possible Entry Points for Intervention in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Regular Knowledge Events

SEARCA's R&D Program organizes two regular events:

Grants and Fellows Programs

SEARCA's R&D Program also provides opportunities for scholars and development practitioners to contribute to the advocacy and promotion of ISARD through research and related initiatives. These opportunities include:

Regional Achievement Award for Agricultural Development

To honor excellence, leadership, and service to advance agricultural development in Southeast Asia, the Dioscoro L. Umali Achievement Award in Agricultural Development is awarded biennially to exemplary individuals. A joint endeavor of SEARCA, the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) of the Philippines, and the DL Umali Foundation, Inc., SEARCA's R&D Program serves as secretariat for the Umali Award.


As a result of the above activities, the R&D Program contributes to the production of various forms of knowledge resources, which include research-based policy briefs, discussion paper series, primers, monographs, conference proceedings, books, and articles for the Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development.

The R&D Program also produces the Southeast Asian Agriculture and Development Primer (SAADP) Series, which comprises 11 volumes, one for each of the 11 Southeast Asian countries. The first edition presents each country's state of agriculture in a holistic yet concise form and shows the institutions, structures, policies, and other areas affecting the sector's performance from the 1980s to the first decade of the 21st century.

The second edition is currently being prepared. This time, each primer is more thematic and specific to key elements and concerns that have affected development in agriculture and rural areas. In particular, the focus is an analysis of each country's experiences, lessons, and insights on policy reforms and institutional innovations in this all important sector.