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.
The "new normal" conditions in Southeast Asia compels SEARCA and all of its key partners to initiate anew a paradigm shift towards accelerating transformation through agricultural innovation (ATTAIN).
SEAMEO is a chartered international organization founded in 1965 is to promote cooperation in education, science, and culture in Southeast Asia. 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.
SEARCA is hosted by the Philippine government on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.
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 the SEAMEO Member Countries such privileges and immunities as are normally accorded United Nations institutions. Representatives of SEAMEO Member States and officials of SEARCA 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.
The Philippine government;
The SEAMEO Educational Development Fund through the SEAMEO Secretariat;
Donor agencies, government and nongovernment organizations, and other institutions that collaborate with SEARCA in its programs and projects; and
Interest earnings and earnings from approved income-generating activities for use in pursuit of SEARCA's education mandate.
As SEARCA implements its new strategy of Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN), it takes on a new organizational structure based on its aspiration to be lean but responsive to the needs of its internal and external environments, and adaptive to industry needs, market changes, and technological advances.
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.