Objectives and Functions

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is a non-profit organization established by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) in 1966.

Founded in 1965, SEAMEO is a chartered international organization whose purpose is to promote cooperation in education, science and culture in the Southeast Asian region. Its highest policymaking body is the SEAMEO Council, which comprises the Ministers of Education of the 11 SEAMEO Member Countries, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

SEAMEO also has Associate Member Countries, namely: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The Center derives its juridical personality from the SEAMEO Charter and possesses full capacity to contract; acquire, and dispose of, immovable and movable property; and institute legal proceedings. Moreover, SEARCA enjoys in the territory of each of its member states such privileges and immunities as are normally accorded United Nations institutions. Representatives of member states and officials of the Center shall similarly enjoy such privileges and immunities in the Philippines as are necessary for the exercise of their functions in connection with SEARCA and SEAMEO.

As SEAMEO's center of excellence in agriculture, SEARCA is mandated "to provide to the participating countries high quality graduate study in agriculture; promote, undertake, and coordinate research programs related to the needs and problems of the Southeast Asian region; and disseminate the findings of agricultural research and experimentation."

Specifically, the functions of SEARCA are to:

  1. Promote and facilitate high-quality study programs leading to the master's and doctor's degrees;
  2. Provide graduate scholarships, fellowships, and/or assistantships for students from member countries;
  3. Promote, undertake, and coordinate research programs, as instituted and supported by the Center, with special emphasis on research related to the needs and pressing problems of agriculture in Southeast Asia;
  4. Provide direction and funds for research by graduate students, faculty members, and other cooperating research workers of member countries;
  5. Publish the findings of agricultural research done in the region, or other pertinent research done elsewhere;
  6. Hold short-term training courses, seminars, workshops, and conferences on selected agricultural problems and topics;
  7. Provide advisory and consulting services to member countries through staff visits and exchanges, seminars, and participation in national training and extension programs.
  8. Stimulate and assist further development of agricultural institutions in Southeast Asia, and to enlist their efforts in a concerted attack on agricultural problems of the region

SEARCA is hosted by the Philippine government on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in Laguna, Philippines.


  • Operating Funds

    which is used mainly for administration and management and core staff salaries and benefits, is donated by the Philippine government.

  • Special Funds

    which is generated and provided by the SEAMEO Secretariat, is used to support the Center's graduate scholarship and short-term training programs, Governing Board meetings, seminars and conferences, and personnel exchanges. Such fund is composed of contributions of SEAMEO member and associate member countries, partner governments, organizations, and individuals to the SEAMEO Educational Development Fund (SEDF).

  • Other Funds

    which is composed of funds for research and development and other extension activities that are not included in the operating budget, comes from donor agencies, government and nongovernment organizations, and other institutions that collaborate with SEARCA in its programs and projects.

  • Unallocated Funds

    which consists of funds received from donors, interest earnings, and earnings from approved income-generating activities for use in pursuit of SEARCA's education mandate.

Organizational Structure

It is axiomatic in modern management that structure should follow strategy. This means that because SEARCA has a new strategy embodied in its Tenth Five-Year Plan (FY 2014/2015 – 2018/2019), it must realign its organization structure accordingly, and recruit appropriate new expertise for the detailed action planning, execution, and monitoring of the new strategic thrusts and initiatives of the Center. Below is SEARCA's current organizational structure:

SEARCA's organizational structure

Our People

SEARCA is headed by a Director who is assisted by two Deputy Directors, one a non-Filipino, but a national of any of the other SEAMEO member countries, who takes charge of SEARCA's programs, and the other a Filipino by citizenship, who takes charge of administration. Learn more »
The SEARCA Governing Board (GB) is SEARCA's highest policymaking body. The GB is responsible for defining general policy guidelines for the Center and reviewing and evaluating annually SEARCA's programs and budgets, among others. Learn more »
SEARCA Senior Fellows provide gratis advice and guidance in the conceptualization of programs as well as technical inputs in project development and implementation. They also assist in establishing linkages and negotiating proposals with potential donors and partners. Learn more »
At present, SEARCA has a lean but excellent staff complement of 62 regular staff members as well as a number of contractuals and consultants. SEARCA’s Fellows Program, which consists of Adjunct, Senior, and Visiting Research Fellows Programs, augments and strengthens the Center's professional staff. Learn more »

SEARCA's History

Agriculture—the ability of people to produce their own food supply—is perhaps the most basic of all human enterprises and possibly the most important. More so today as world population continues to grow while the natural resources needed to feed them continue to shrink and are adversely affected by climate change. Aside from being a key to ensuring food security, growth in the agriculture sector has been known to be about twice as effective in reducing poverty compared to growth in other sectors. As such, agriculture remains a centerpiece of national development programs, including those of countries in Southeast Asia.

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