BATTAMBANG CITY, CAMBODIA – The sixth offering of the “Executive Forum on Leadership Excellence in Academe Program for Southeast Asia (LEAP SEA)” kicked off on 26 January 2015 in the campus of the University of Battambang (UBB) in Battambang City, Cambodia. The forum is co-organized by SEARCA and UBB.
LOS BAÑOS, Philippines – The ASRF Program Steering Committee (ASRF PSC) evaluated the shortlisted proposals under the ASRF Second Call for Proposals and discussed other activities for the remaining 11 months of the program’s pilot phase on 22 January 2015 at SEARCA.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam became a member country of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), SEARCA’s mother organization, in 1992.
SEAMEO is an intergovernment treaty body founded in 1965 to foster cooperation among Southeast Asian nations in the fields of education, science, and culture. SEARCA was founded a year later and is hosted by the Philippine government on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
Vietnam is represented in SEARCA’s Governing Board by Dr. Tran Van Dien, Rector, College of Agriculture and Forestry, Thai Nguyen University.
HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
Full MS and PhD ScholarshipsSince 1968, SEARCA has been awarding scholarships to Southeast Asians to pursue graduate studies in agriculture and related fields at selected universities in the region. These SEARCA scholars are envisaged to assume leadership roles in their respective countries and influence the directions of agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia.
As of academic year 2014/2015, a total of 130 Vietnamese were awarded full SEARCA scholarships (90 MS, 40 PhD). Of this number, 97 had completed their graduate programs (65 MS, 32 PhD) at various universities with which SEARCA has special arrangements. The study posts of Vietnamese SEARCA scholars included Universiti Putra Malaysia in Malaysia; Central Luzon State University, University of the Philippines Los Baños and University of the Philippines Visayas, all in the Philippines; and Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI) in Japan.
Of the SEARCA scholars, 11 are currently supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. Four had completed their graduate programs, one of whom was supported by Tokyo NODAI and the rest by France’s Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Industries Agricoles et Alimentaires (ENSIA). Their scholarships were administered by SEARCA under joint scholarship projects, as follows:IDRC-SEARCA Southeast Asian Upland Agriculture Fellowship Project. The scholarship project, which started in 2013, aims to establish a critical mass of high-quality human resources in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Lao PDR who could serve as catalysts for developing sustainable agriculture programs for upland communities that are generally vulnerable to food insecurity. The 11 Vietnamese scholars under this project are undertaking their master’s degrees at UPLB, and Chiang Mai University and Kasetsart University, both in Thailand.
Tokyo NODAI-SEARCA Scholarship for Dissertation Doctorate Program. Mr. Tran Quang Trung of Hanoi University of Agriculture (now known as Vietnam National University of Agriculture) is the sole Vietnamese who received this scholarship. His dissertation is titled "Influences of Rural Investment Climate Factors on Business Operations of Agricultural Firms: Evidence from Vietnam." Started in School Year 2010/2011, the project aims to contribute to the enhancement of agricultural research and development in Southeast Asia by providing a three-year scholarship leading to a Dissertation Doctorate at Tokyo NODAI.
Asian-European International Master’s Degree Course on Food Science. The project was a pilot offering of a 19-month intensive training in food science leading to a master’s degree that will be conferred by France’s Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Industries Agricoles et Alimentaires
PhD Research Scholarships
SEARCA also awards PhD Research Scholarships to Southeast Asian nationals whose research work are relevant to the priority thrusts of SEARCA. To date, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Son is the only Vietnamese recipient of the PhD research scholarship. His dissertation is titled Applications of Remote Sensing and GIS for Sustainable Land Use Management and Agricultural Drought Monitoring in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.
Sandwich Program Scholarships
A Vietnamese PhD scholar, Ms. Pham Huu Yen Phuong, was the first scholar under the SEARCA’s sandwich program in collaboration with Centre de Cooperation Internationale en Recherché Agronomique pour le Developpement or the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) to pursue her dissertation research in food science.
Through sandwich programs, SEARCA provides limited support to highly qualified Southeast Asian students to conduct and complete their researches under a sandwich program arrangement outside their home university under the supervision of a counterpart adviser.
IRRI-SEARCA Affiliate Scholars
A special arrangement between the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and SEARCA enabled SEARCA scholars to conduct their thesis research under the supervision of an IRRI scientist. Ms. Ngo Thi Thanh Truc (PhD, environmental science) and Mr. Ho Viet The (MS, plant breeding) were able to take advantage of this arrangement. As IRRI affiliate scholars, they were able to use IRRI’s laboratory and office facilities as well as IRRI’s Library and Documentation Center for their research.
Short-term training is SEARCA’s fast lane to building the capacities in the agriculture and rural development sector of SEAMEO member countries. Training activities are geared towards developing the technical and managerial competencies of university faculty members, researchers, agricultural and environmental leaders, and development practitioners in Southeast Asia.
Since SEARCA began its capacity building service in 1970, 348 Vietnamese had participated in 84 international, regional, in-country SEARCA trainings, faculty seminars, and learning forums on various topics, including:Pig breeding and production course
Grain postharvest technology
Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management
Data management for rural development and food security
Agricultural research managementSome of these learning events were conducted in Vietnam, as follows:Second Southeast Asian Course on Sustainable Agro-enterprise Development Microregional Context
Capacity building and Comparative Study on Technology Management in Southeast Asia
Forum-workshop on Vulnerability and Impact Assessment: Approaches Methods and Tools
Agricultural Project Analysis Training Course for Vietnam’s Ministries of Forestry and Agriculture
Training and study tour for Vietnamese government personnel for VISED-CIDA
Seminar workshop on curriculum development on sustainable agriculture
Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CERD) Project: Short-term Overseas Comparative Studies
Advance Higher Education Administrators Development (AHEAD) Training course
Leaders in ASEAN Agriculture and DevelopmentAside from SEARCA-organized training courses, the Center also proactively finds other opportunities for Southeast Asians to participate in high-level training courses. These include the following:2010 National Taiwan University Summer Program on Biodiversity.
SEARCA-Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program Training.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
To carry out SEARCA’s second objectives, the Center conducts and coordinates appropriate and relevant research that promotes social inclusion and environmental sustainability. It takes the lead in discussing emerging agricultural and rural development (ARD) issues and spearheads initiatives toward articulating policy directions and inputs.
Social Laboratory for Rural and Agricultural Development
During the 1970s, SEARCA launched the Social Laboratory, a strategy for rural and agricultural development carried out by higher education institutions to uplift the...
CHIANG MAI, Thailand – Mr. Var Sophal bested nine others, when he bagged the 3rd best poster award at the 1st International Conference on Asian Highland Natural Resources Management (AsiaHiLand) and 2nd IDRC-SEARCA Upland Fellowship Plus Conference held on 7-9 January 2015 at The Empress Convention Center, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
CHIANG MAI, Thailand – The Southeast Asian Upland Agriculture Fellowship, a collaborative project of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and the Southeast Asian Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), recently concluded its 2nd IDRC-SEARCA Annual Fellowship Plus Conference held on 7-9 of January 2015 at the Empress Hotel Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Research and Development Generating information, knowledge, lessons, and insights that will influence policies, investments, trade, and other actions that will promote competitive agriculture, as well as inclusive and sustainable ARD. Read More
Knowledge Management Promoting a learning culture, knowledge creation, knowledge-sharing and use, with a predominant focus on the broad strategic theme of ISARD. Read More
“Agritourism is not for everyone, it’s a niche product but it has a lot of potential”, asserted Prof. Eli Paolo Fresnoza, Assistant Professor at UP’s Asian Institute of Tourism during SEARCA’s Agriculture and Development Seminar Series on 5 July 2011 at the Drilon Hall.
As a hybrid concept fusing together the elements of the tourism and agriculture industries, agritourism can be harnessed as a form of special interest tourism focusing on the unique travel experiences and activities that people can have in agricultural settings. When people travel, it is the attraction or experience that people go for; if food and beverage, accommodation and transportation are included in the package, even a farm can be a tourist destination. Prof. Fresnoza explained that agritourism is sustainable tourism as it marries the concept of enjoyment with resource management, community empowerment, cooperation, fair trade and diversification. Moreover, agritourism does not need large capital investment outlay because many existing farm sites just need to be enhanced.
In 2002, with the vision of the Philippines becoming the premier agritourism destination in Asia, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) worked with the UP Asian Institute of Tourism on a manual that identified initial agritourism sites all over the country such as the C & B Orchid Farm in San Rafael, Bulacan, Sonya’s Secret Garden in Alfonso, Cavite, Oroverde in Guimaras, and Del Monte Plantation in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. In recent years, more agritourism sites have been developed including Bohol Bee Farm in Dauis, Bohol, Dragon Fruit Farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte and The Farm at San Benito, Batangas.
As the agritourism sector is still largely private-sector-driven, a few challenges to meeting agritourism’s potential in the Philippines include confusion on which government agency will lead the potential (Is it DOT or DA?), and limited standardization and accreditation. Prof. Fresnoza put forward a few specific recommendations to meet these challenges. These include: education and curriculum development in secondary and post-secondary schools, improvement of access to capital, technical training and accreditation and certification, setting up of an agritourism center for research, development and innovation as well as an agritourism destination marketing bureau.
“Harnessing agritourism opportunities is key to regional development”, Prof. Fresnoza reiterated. This can be done in two ways. One is the bottom-up approach, where established farms approach DOT and DA to help them market and promote the experiences they offer. The other is the top-down approach, where through training and financial grants, the two departments help farms that have potential but lack the capability to market their destinations.
DISCLAIMER: The point of view taken by this article is entirely that of the presenter's and does not reflect in any way, SEARCA’s position.