Agricultural innovation plans for Southeast Asia launched

Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) governance will bring about greater participation among Southeast Asian countries, including Brunei, said its director Dr Glen B Gregorio.

“It will pursue gender balance and inclusion of the younger generations to draw from a more diverse pool of culture and ideas towards meaningful teamwork in pursuit of its mission,” Dr Gregorio said.

From July 2020 to June 2025, the Philippines-based SEARCA will concentrate its resources and efforts toward Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN).

The regional centre of the inter-government treaty organisation focussed on agricultural research and education with the implementation of its 11th five-year plan to push agricultural innovation in Southeast Asia, including Brunei Darussalam.

Brunei is represented in the SEARCA Governing Board by Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) Satellite Principal and Special Level Education Officer at the IBTE Norjemee bin Jenek. His term is from October 2, 2018 to October 1, 2021.

According to Dr Gregorio, SEARCA commits to accelerating the transformation that elevates the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets.

Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture Director Dr Glenn B Gregorio. PHOTO: SEARCA

He said, “Our new development strategy was shaped by SEARCA’s desire to contribute to the transformation of farmers who are stuck with the belief that farming is limited to production, into new farmers operating in a modern agriculture ecology, that is Agriculture 4.0.”

“Our transformation efforts in the next five years will focus on policy, institutional, social, and technological innovations,” Dr Gregorio explained. He said the new strategic plan focusses on agribusiness models for increased productivity and income, sustainable farming systems and natural resource management, food and nutrition security, transformational leadership for agricultural and rural development (ARD), gender and youth engagement in ARD, enhanced ARD towards climate resilience, and EcoHealth/One Health applications to ARD.

The new plan is articulated through SEARCA’s core programmes on Education and Collective Learning (ECL), Research and Thought Leadership (RTL), and Emerging Innovation for Growth (EIG), Dr Gregorio added.

ECL comprises graduate scholarship and institutional development and training for development, while RTL leads research for development, policy and programme advisory, and agriculture, forestry, and natural resources knowledge platforms.

On the other hand, EIG will provide farmers and farming families wider access to innovative products and services as well as business models for increased productivity and income through open innovation and agri-incubation; knowledge and technology transfer; and project development, monitoring, and evaluation.

“To address global challenges for a better and more sustainable future for all, SEARCA’s development agenda aligns with the sustainable development goals (SDGs),” Dr Gregorio said adding that SEARCA will contribute and allocate resources toward the achievement of SDGs such as SDG 2: Zero Hunger; SDG 4: Quality Education; SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 13: Climate Action; and SDG 17: Partnerships.

As SEARCA tries to achieve the five SDGs, Dr Gregorio said it also touches SDG 1: No Poverty; SDG 2: Gender Equality; and SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, which are directly aligned with SEARCA’s mandate and focus with greater emphasis
on partnerships.