Thirty-one students from seven-member universities of the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) converged at Kasetsart University (KU) on 17 – 18 August 2017 for the 3rd UC Graduate Forum with the theme, "Combatting Food and Energy Insecurity and Climate Change through Sustainable and Inclusive Agricultural Technologies and Innovations." The Forum was opened by Dr. Chongrak Wachrinrat, KU President, after a message given by Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA Director. Dr. Chantavit Sujatanond, Director of SEAMEO Regional Center for Higher Education and Development (RIHED), delivered the keynote speech, while Dr. Buncha Chinnasri, Assistant to the KU President, served as host to the whole event.
In his message, Dr. Saguiguit credited the UC for the expansion of SEARCA's scholarship programs to cover joint or dual degree scholarships, as well as, for the sandwich or exchange programs. He also noted that the Graduate Forum serves to strengthen institutional ties among the UC members. Meanwhile, the RIHED Director also commended the UC for conducting such a forum for graduate students in agriculture. She elaborated that while many young people want to go into fields of study related to information technology, she said that these fields cannot feed us. She encouraged the UC to expand the consortium and include universities from other countries in Southeast Asia.
In the afternoon of August 17, the students took turns in presenting their research results in three parallel sessions under the following subthemes: Agriculture and Life Sciences; Agro-Industry; and Agribusiness and Agricultural Extension. The following day, the participants visited three research centers in KU's Kamphaeng Saen Campus and were delighted to see KU's state-of-the-art facilities and research programs, and get a taste of the famous KU Beef.
The Graduate Forum is an annual activity of the UC, hosted by member universities on rotational basis. This 3rd Graduate Forum saw paper presentations from seven students of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), six from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), six from Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB), five from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), three from KU, three from Universitas Brawijaya (UB), and one from Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI). The students left KU with a better understanding of the UC, with a network of friends from other universities, and a glimpse of the researches being undertaken by students in other major fields.