A technical aid in agriculture will be extended by a Southeast Asian think tank to Agriculture Sec. Emmanuel F. Pinol which will expand its Philippine research programs on carabao dairy and meat and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study an Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has offered to Pinol its technical expertise in agricultural development research.

Technical aid in agriculture to be extended by Southeast Asian think tank to DA, to expand programs on carabao dairy, Good Agri Practice 1

“We have noted that President Duterte‘s 8-point agenda places strong emphasis on agricultural development. Over many years, we have been providing technical assistance to national government agencies to promote agricultural and rural development,” said SEARCA Director  Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. in an offer of service to Pinol.

For the Philippines’ carabao sector, one of SEARCA’s projects is a value chain analysis on carabao products — dairy and meat–  in Visayas and Mindanao.  SEARCA has tapped for the local carabao center a diagnostic tool on Value Chain Analysis that is used globally, enabling farmers and other players in the farm sector to earn acceptable profit over the long haul.

“In the overall value chain, farmers are the losers for getting the lowest gain from carabao production.  A value chain assessment identifies constraints facing key players and suggests policy directions to enhance competitiveness and participation of smallhold farmers.”

Another Philippines project is enhancing link of small farmers to markets in order to cut traders’ income and channel this income to farm families. Focus is specifically on rice, corn, and coconut sectors where farmers are among those that need government assistance the most.

Especially in light of the ASEAN economic integration, SEARCA will make available its services to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) under which Philippines is a top beneficiary as it hosts SEARCA’s headquarters.  These resources are knowledge resources, technical expertise, network of alumni and experts, and institutional partners.

“ASEAN is progressively moving toward regional economic integration– single production and market base.SEARCA cannot be just a passive observer of the evolving AFTA (ASEAN Free trade Agreement) and AEC (ASEAN Economic Community).  The preparations will require rigorous and objective studies that analyze policy options.”

These are SEARCA’s other research programs in the Philipppines:

1.  Community-Based Nutrition that envisions to become a nationwide program to address food and nutrition deficiencies.  It is studying establishment of school gardens that will provide diverse vegetables to communities and cut food expense, provide alternative income source, and create savings for families.

2. Improving agricultural crop insurance program to enhance farms’ resilience to climate change.   It analyzes how Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) among rice and corn farmers can reduce risk of farmers in climatic disasters.

“The study concludes that with the promotion of GAP, the possibility of farmers availing insurance decreases. The use of recommended technologies (under GAP) are a scheme for farmers to cope with pest, disease damage, and natural calamities, thus GAP becomes a substitute for insurance as a risk management tool.”

Saguiguit told Pinol SEARCA’s research on rice smuggling could be tapped by the Department of Agriculture to solve smuggling problems that have subjected Filipino farmers to poverty.

SEARCA just hosted Pinol’s farmers’consultation at its University of the Philippines Los Banos headquarters. The consultation aimed to present winning technologies that will lure rice farmers to better techniques, particularly hybrid rice, that will uplift them from poverty.

Model farmers harvested up to 14 metric tons (MT) per hectare of palay (paddy rice), virtually liberating them from long-time poverty.

The highest harvester was Edgardo Marcelo of Guimba, Nueva Ecija who reaped the 14 MT per hectare. He consistently got high yield during the dry season since 2010.  From 212 MT per hectare in 2010, his yield, using SL-8H seed, was consistently increasing to 218 MT, 2011; 224 MT, 2012; 232 MT, 2013; 256 MT, 2014; 292 MT, 2015; and 308 MT, 2016.

Another high yielder was 46-year old Lyndon Basilio of San Isidro, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur.  His highest yield was 9.9 MT per hectare using hybrids M20 and M1.

Rodil G. Parcon of Pototan, Iloilo was another winner hybrid grower.  He harvested 186 bags per hectare of Mestizo 1, much higher compared to his average production of 70 to 100 bags per hectare using inbreds.

From Mindanao (Kibuaya, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur), the model farmer was Martiniano Ypil Cole.  His highest yield was 10.1 MT per hectare, practically double the usual yield of an average of Filipino rice farmer which is only at 5 MT per hectare.

SEARCA’s programs seek to enable  entrepreneurship among farmers.  The “social inclusion” term aims to link small farmers to commercial food systems. This should specifically impact favorably on the minority — women, indigenous people, and youth.

SEARCA is a treaty organization of 11 members of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO)–Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Timor-Leste.

SEARCA is run through five-year plans (FYPs).  One of its early FYP objectives was to create agricultural technologies that could be transferred across member countries. Among the first of such technologies is the high yielding rice varieties of the “Green Revolution.”

As climate change has been evolving to be a real issue to confront, SEARCA’s FYP in early 2000’s included those on Natural Resource Management (NRM) Agro-Industrial Development, Food Security, Biotechnology, Water Resource Management, Biodiversity Conservation, Climate Change, and Environmental Risk Management.

Under Agricultural Competitiveness, its projects delves on trade and investment, technology management, governance, institutional reforms, and policy studies.

Its other FYP thrusts were the management of systems in irrigation, research, extension, and farming.  SEARCA’s R&D projects were later classified under six categories:  Development of Upland Communities, Agro-industrialization, Gender and Development, Management of Agricultural Information, Coastal Area Agriculture, and Bio-fertilizer Research.

SEARCA provides scholarships in agriculture and related fields at the graduate level “and training for middle and top-level university and government executives, researchers, policymakers, and development practitioners.”

It is the subregional node for agriculture of the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN), a regional initiative under the Global Adaptation Network (GAN) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

SEARCA maintains two virtual knowledge centers: Biotechnology Information Center (BIC) and the Knowledge Center on Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management in Southeast Asia (KC3).

Included in SEARCA’s international education networks are the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC); Food Security Center (FSC); Exchange by Promoting Quality Education, Research and Training in South and Southeast Asia (ExPERTS) Consortium; Association of Asian Agricultural Colleges and Universities (AAACU), and the Asia Life Sciences, Food, Agriculture, Biology, Economics, Technology (ALFABET). (Growth Publishing for SEARCA)

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