The Philippine-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) 65th Governing Board (GB) has conducted an annual evaluation of the center’s programs and finances aimed at boosting the region’s agricultural and rural development sectors.
SEARCA’s GB discussed the center’s strategies and directions in the said sectors through its core programs on graduate education and institutional development, research and development, and knowledge management.
The GB is the highest policymaking body of SEARCA composed of a representative from each of the 11 member countries of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO).
The Thai government, through the Ministry of Education (MOE), hosted the said board meeting on Thursday and Friday at the Radisson Blu Plaza in Bangkok in Thailand.
Fernando Sanchez Jr., chancellor of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), represented the Philippines while SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. and the director of the Bangkok-based Seameo Secretariat also sit as ex-officio members of the board.
Also in the board’s agenda were the plans for crafting the 11th Five-Year Plan of SEARCA for fiscal year 2019/2020–2023/2024 and the Southeast Asian AgriMuseum and Learning Center for Agricultural and Rural Development.
During the opening ceremony, SEARCA launched the second edition of its primer on Thailand’s agriculture titled “Southeast Asian Agriculture and Development Primer [SAADP]: Thailand.”
This is one of the 11-volume SAADP series that SEARCA produces for Seameo member-countries composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.
SEARCA said the primer series provides a concise yet comprehensive reference material on Southeast Asia agriculture. It said the second edition focuses on the analysis of each country’s experiences, lessons, and insights on policy reform and institutional innovations in the agriculture sector.
The new Thailand primer highlights the structural change of the country’s agriculture sector, particularly the government’s efforts to enhance food safety. It also presents options for phasing out Thailand’s Paddy Pledging Program with minimal damage to the country’s rice industry.
Meanwhile, the new Philippine primer presents a way forward to achieving food security, not by artificially inducing high food prices through trade restrictions, but by shifting the focus of policy to efficiency-enhancing measures.
It also asserts that the Philippines implement long overdue policy and governance reforms needed to foster a more competitive and shock-resilient agriculture sector to keep in step with the ASEAN Economic Community.
It was authored by Philippine Competition Commissioner Arsenio Balisacan and UP School of Economics Professor Majah-Leah Ravago.