Congress seeks SEARCA’s advice on declining enrollment in agriculture
The Congressional Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) chaired by Hon. Roman T. Romulo of the Philippines House of Representatives has invited the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) to its 39th Regular Meeting held on 18 August 2015 to advise on House Resolution 589 which urges the conduct of an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the decreasing number of licensed agriculturists and students who are pursuing a career in agriculture with the end view of addressing the same in order to maintain the country’s rice sufficiency.
The resolution authored by Congresswoman Estelita B. Suansing of the 1st District of Nueva Ecija aims to identify the relationship between the declining interest in agriculture education and the country’s rice sufficiency.
Dr. Bessie M. Burgos and Dr. Maria Celeste H. Cadiz, SEARCA Program Heads for Research and Development and Knowledge Management, respectively, presented the Center’s position on the matter, citing a study published by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and the Philippine Institute for Development Studyes (PIDS) in 2013 and a 2012 SEARCA study.
During the meeting, SEARCA said that while interest in agricultural education has been declining, the demand for agricultural products such as food, fuel, and feeds continue to increase as Filipinos seek sustainable, nutritious, and safe food. The demand should correspondingly increase the need for agricultural professionals who will respond to challenge of food security and poverty alleviation.
Furthermore, a SEARCA commissioned study also noted a decline in the number of students pursuing graduate education in agriculture. It revealed that ASEAN universities in general have not been responsive enough to the emerging opportunities and threats facing agriculture in the region including food security and poverty alleviation. Some of the recommendations to increase the interest of student in taking graduate education in agriculture include curricular reforms; strengthening partnerships with the academe, government, and industry; institutional development; and internationalization of education, among others.
In general, SEARCA recommended that agricultural education in the country should be focused on agribusiness and entrepreneurship in agriculture which may serve as an effective route to keep the sector at par with the growing industry and service sector. Growth in the agriculture sector will correspondingly increase the need for professionals and students who will pursue careers in agriculture.
Also present as resource persons during the meeting were members of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) led by its Chair, Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan; a representative of the Department of Agriculture, and Mr. Sonny Domingo, Deputy Commissioner of the Board of Agriculture, Professional Regulation Commission.