The book tells SEARCA’s ISARD story from the perspective of individuals who participated in conceptualizing and implementing the 10th FYP and witnessed many, if not all, its endeavors. The framing of the chapter titles reflects this perspective.
The 10th FYP was a turning point for the Center, led by Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., then on his second term. Against a renewed recognition by the development community of the importance of agriculture to the world’s well-being, the Center chose to draw from its past strengths and character to face the complexities in agricultural and rural development (ARD). But navigating this new path was challenging, and at the center of it all were the lowly farmer and fisher and their families, who in many cases, had remained in their lowly stature.
In these five-plus-one years, SEARCA bannered Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD) for its core programs on graduate education and institutional development, research and development, and knowledge management in Southeast Asia. ISARD is a holistic approach and process of addressing challenges of farmers’ and fishers’ low incomes and entrepreneurial abilities, poor access to markets and technology, and degrading natural resources and increasing extreme climate disruptions affecting their livelihoods and their food and nutrition security—with an important human face in empowering social and community processes. The Center piloted the ISARD approach in two separate island communities in the Philippines in partnership with their respective state universities or colleges in agriculture and government and nongovernment stakeholders.