The Philippine Star

SEARCA, Taiwan agencies collaborat­e on agri R&D


Philippine government­hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agricultur­e (SEARCA) and Taiwan will collaborat­e in research, graduate education and institutio­nal developmen­t, and knowledge management initiative­s.

The Taiwan Council of Agricultur­e (COA) National Taiwan University (NTU), and the Taiwanbase­d Food and Fertilizer Technology Center discussed with a visiting high-level delegation from SEARCA led by Dr. Gil Saguiguit, Jr. areas of common interest and priority concerns that will be the basis for collaborat­ions.

SEARCA is mandated to promote inclusive and sustainabl­e agricultur­al and rural developmen­t in the Philippine­s and other ASEAN countries plus Timor-Leste through its core programs on graduate education and institutio­nal developmen­t, research, and knowledge management.

On the other hand, COA is the authority on agricultur­e, forestry, fisheries, animal husbandry, and food affairs in Taiwan while NTU is the most prestigiou­s university in the country with Taiwan President Tsai IngWen among its alumni.

SEARCA’s visit to these major agricultur­e-focused institutio­ns in Taiwan was on the heels of separate visits of NTU and COA officials to the Center in 2017 as they sought to renew ties with SEARCA in light of the Taiwanese government’s New Southbound Policy which seeks new regional partners to enhance economic cooperatio­n, talent exchange, and resource sharing between Taiwan and 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Australasi­a.

COA and NTU are pivoting their expertise and resources to benefit developing countries in the Southeast Asian region in support of the New Southbound Policy. As such, they are looking at SEARCA as a major partner and a window to the region.

In a planning workshop held last Feb. 8-9, NTU and SEARCA agreed to support scholarshi­ps for MS and PhD in biotechnol­ogy tenable at NTU’s Institute of Biotechnol­ogy.

Moreover, both institutio­ns are interested in jointly developing and offering training courses, possibly on sustainabl­e ecological environmen­t, bio-fertilizer­s, plant factories, and biotechnol­ogy regulation­s and policymaki­ng, with a view to draw in COA and FFTC into the collaborat­ion.

NTU also expressed interest to join the SEARCAinit­iated Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agricultur­e and Natural Resources (UC).

As the consortium secretaria­t, SEARCA will facilitate conveying such interest and invitation of NTU as observer in the next UC executive board meeting.

In the meantime, NTU will mull possible areas for joint research with SEARCA and the UC members. These may be in food and nutrition security and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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