Capacity Development Needs Assessment in Southeast Asia Toward an Informed Human Development Program in Inclusive and Sustainable
Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD)
2015 66 pp. by Maria Ana T. Quimbo, Evangeline C. Sulabo
Global warming and unpredictable weather patterns, decreasing agricultural land area, rural industrialization, increasing urban population, declining enrolment in agriculture programs, lingering rural poverty, fast-paced evolution of new knowledge and technology, and the ASEAN integration are only some of the complex challenges besetting the global agricultural environment in the region. As the leading enabler in the science and practice of agriculture and rural development in Southeast Asia, SEARCA has made the commitment to respond to these challenges by building human, social, and institutional capital through education, research, and action. Recognizing that this changing agricultural environment also provides opportunities for greater beneficial impacts, SEARCA further strengthened its commitment through its 10th Five-Year Plan reformulated mission of strengthening institutional capacities within the framework of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD) in Southeast Asia.
The study was conducted to analyze the capacity development needs of key individuals and institutions to respond to the emerging issues and concerns they face toward an informed human resource development program. It adopted an exploratory and descriptive research design using a combination of survey, interviews, and focus group discussions. Select institutions and key individuals in the frontline of agricultural and rural development work in Southeast Asia served as research participants representing countries such as Cambodia, Timor Leste, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Qualitative and descriptive approaches were used in data analysis.
The study was expected to determine strategies and policy directions to make ISARD human resource development program more responsive and relevant to target institutions and personnel. In organizing the results of the study, six broad categories of competencies from a checklist of about 180 competencies provided to the respondents were determined. These categories of competencies were: management and leadership and planning; agriculture and climate change-related; and research, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and extension. Institution head-respondents and personnel-respondents employed in the government were asked to prioritize the desired competencies for the institutions and their personnel in order to effectively address emerging problems, issues, and concerns related to agricultural and rural development toward achieving the institutional goals. Prioritization of competencies was done using the criteria of relevance and urgency using a scale of “1” to “3”, with “1” as least relevant and least urgent and “3” as most relevant and most urgent.
There was generally an existing demand for current capacity building provisions of SEARCA given the desired and prioritized competency areas along SEARCA’s training areas of academic leadership, project development and management, research management, and impact assessment of programs with emphasis on food security, climate change, and poverty reduction. Another important result was the identification of new competencies that were both technical and nontechnical within the determined broad categories. Moreover, it was interesting to find that there was also a desired demand for soft skills or those that refer to an individual’s intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships to succeed in work. Some of the soft skills were even identified as among the most relevant and most urgent competencies as pointed out by both the institution-heads and key personnel-respondents.
While mismatch was found in a number of desired and priority competency areas as perceived by the respondents, there were also interesting concordant answers in both technical and non-technical areas. There was general agreement on the need for capacity building in the competencies of Planning; Sustainable agriculture; Agricultural knowledge and information system; Climate changerelated areas; Research proposal writing; and Project design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. In the case of desired personnel competencies, institution-heads and key personnel-respondents expressed concurrence in such competencies as Resistance to stress skills; Agricultural knowledge and information system; Agricultural innovations system; Climate change-related areas; Impact assessment; Data analysis and interpretation; Strategic planning; Project design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation; and Rural-urban interdependencies.
Agreement was likewise found in a number of prioritized institutional competencies by the respondent-groups. Specifically, these were Tolerance for uncertainty; Climate change-related areas; Research proposal writing; Impact assessment; Data analysis and interpretation; Project design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation; Rural tourism/agri-ecotourism; and Ruralurban interdependencies. In the case of prioritized personnel competencies, consistency in choices was found in such competencies as Analytic thinking skills; Climate change-related areas; Project design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation; and Rural tourism/agri-ecotourism.
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