The paper describes the evolution of SEARCA research thrusts and programs from 1969 to the present. SEARCA’s research projects underwent a paradigm shift in terms of the level of integration of disciplines among the researches—from discipline-based to multidisciplinary to interdisciplinary and more recently, transdisciplinary researches. The paper also analyzed how food security was mainstreamed in SEARCA
researches through the years.
The period from 1969 to 1979 can be described as the Center’s discipline-based research period. This was when almost all technology-related researches were geared toward increasing agricultural productivity. The multidisciplinary research period 1979 to 1999 followed, which was when most of the researches dealt with community development, rural development, gender and development, and agro-industrialization and agribusiness. On the other hand, the interdisciplinary research became the dominant type from 1999 to the present. This could be attributed to natural resource management and agricultural competitiveness being the Center’s research thrusts during this period. More recently (since 2011), transdisciplinary initiatives have been introduced in SEARCA, aiming to address the multi-faceted issues of natural resource management, agricultural competitiveness, and food security.
The dominant food security dimension reflected through the years were observed to be linked to the phases undergone by SEARCA’s thrusts and researches. From 1969 to mid-1979 (discipline-based phase), the researches of SEARCA dealt more with increasing food productivity. During the latter part of 1979 to 1999 (multidisciplinary phase), the researches focused more on food access and utilization. Food stability was highlighted from mid-1999 until the present (interdisciplinary phase). Finally, all food security dimensions were directly or indirectly reflected in the researches from 2011 onwards (transdisciplinary phase).
The trend of SEARCA projects being more interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary will continue as it addresses complex, multidimensional issues such as climate change, natural resource management, poverty, and food security.