NAIROBI, Kenya – The Biotechnology Information Center (BIC) of SEARCA’s Knowledge Management Department contributed to and learned from the presentations, discussions, and exercises of three international biotech communication activities held at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya: the Alliance for Science Biotechnology Leadership Course (10-11 April 2015), the International Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology and Biosafety Communications (13-14 April 2015), and the Annual Network Meeting of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications or ISAAA (15-16 April 2015).
ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – SEARCA, in partnership with the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), will conduct a training course on Organic and Scientific Native Chicken Production on 27 April 2015 at MMSU in Batac, Ilocos Norte. This activity is the first in a series of training courses under the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR)-funded project titled, Production of Organic Feeds for Native Chicken: A Pilot Corn/Sorghum + Cowpea Intercropping Scheme Integrated with Village Feed Milling and Native Chicken Production.
LOS BAÑOS, Philippines – SEARCA has successfully concluded the training courses on “Demystifying Knowledge Management (KM)” and “Knowledge Sharing for Your Work: Techniques and Tools for Project KM” which were attended by 24 participants from the Department of Agriculture–Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), DA Regional Field Office, DA Bureaus, and Attached Agencies. The training workshops, held last 13-17 April 2015, were implemented under the DA-BAR-funded project Capacity Development Program on Knowledge Management–Phase II.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture Asia Regional Office (CIAT Asia) recently signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue common education, training, and research objectives in various areas of agricultural and rural development in the Southeast Asian region.
Food availability is an important dimension of a country’s food security and at the regional level, a balance between food production, exports and imports is important to ensure that there is stability in food security. The main sources of making food available in most Southeast countries are what Teng (2013) has called the “food taps” and comprise the following – self production, imports via trade, contract farming, stocks and reserves, and food aid. Anecdotal information shows that countries stockpile food, particularly rice, in different modalities. To maintain a supply of rice stocks for the population, most countries in Southeast Asia adopt a mix of trade instruments such as government to government trade, local procurement, and procurement through the private sector. Rice is a good starting point to study food reserve management processes and policies in Southeast Asia.
Given the potential role that stocks and reserves can play to stabilize food availability at the individual country and regional level, it is important to research the policies, processes and technologies which allow this to be a viable strategy in Southeast Asia.
The study will focus initially on rice as the primary commodity and includes details on other commodities to be decided by partner institutions. The specific project objectives are:Define and understand the importance of keeping food stocks and reserves, and the rationale behind countries’ decision to stockpile;
Identify the commodities that countries stockpile and the modalities and mechanisms of food stockpiling that have been adopted, including physical, virtual, trade, national and regional mechanisms;
Examine the implications of a changing regional trade regime on a country’s food stocks, as well as the impact of individual countries’ food reserves on a regional stockpiling mechanism such as APTERR; and
Explore the feasibility of establishing other types of regional stockpiles beyond reserves.These objectives will be met through a collaborative research among SEARCA, the University Consortium members, and specific affiliate partners such as Dr. Paul Teng of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS/NTS), Nanyang Technological University.
Activity 1. Survey and analysis of food reserve management and policies among SEA countries (R&D)
The approach to be used is as follows:Collate and assess all studies on food stocks and stockpiling thus far and conduct a survey and focus group discussions where needed, so as to understand the rationale behind countries’ decision to stockpile, identify the commodities that countries stockpile, the modalities and mechanisms of food stockpiling adopted; relevant government policies, andFrom the results of the study, identify policy implications and recommendations for the ASEAN region, including optimal stockpiling modalities; and examine challenges and possible ways of implementation (e.g. determining the appropriate level of food reserve, timing of storage and release of emergency stocks and financial sustainability).Activity 2. Regional workshop (Capacity building)
A regional workshop on food stocks, and the role of reserves or stockpiles will be organized to improve understanding of the role that these can play in national and regional food security. All countries in Southeast Asia are expected to be present. The workshop will also be used to identify implications of a changing regional trade regime (such as the AEC2015) on a country’s food stocks, as well as the impact of individual countries’ food reserves on a regional stockpiling mechanism.
Activity 3. Publish policy brief (Knowledge Management)
Activity 1 – (i) Explication of the techniques, processes and responsible agencies for managing food stocks and reserves in all SE Asian countries; (ii) Collation of all relevant policies on food stocks, reserves and stockpiles in SE Asia; (iii) Identification of regional or non-government food stocks and reserves
Activity 2 – One regional workshop open to all interested SE Asian countries and to multi-lateral organizations on food stocks and reserves in relation to food security. Results of Activity 1 will be shared at this workshop.
Activity 3 – One publication of findings from the project in hard copy and e-format.
 Teng, Paul P.S. 2013. Food Security: What it means for a Food-Importing Country. RSIS Commentaries. No. 222/2013 dated 4 December 2013
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.