Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture
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|Motto||"Science and Education for Agriculture and Development"|
|Formation||27 November 1966|
|Type||Non-profit inter-government treaty organization|
|Purpose||Graduate Education and Institutional Development, Research and Development, and Knowledge Management|
|Headquarters||Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines|
|Southeast Asian Minister of Education Organization SEAMEO|
SEARCA or the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture is one of the oldest among 21 regional centers of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). Founded on 27 November 1966, SEARCA is mandated to strengthen institutional capacities in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia.
For its Tenth Five-Year Plan (FY2014/2015 - FY2018/2019), SEARCA works to strengthen institutional capacities toward inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD) in Southeast Asia through graduate education and institutional development, research and development, and knowledge management. These programs are anchored on SEARCA's strategic thrusts that promote social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and cross-cutting concerns that impact Southeast Asia.
SEARCA serves the 11 SEAMEO member countries, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Timor-Leste. The Center is hosted by the Government of the Philippines on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in Laguna, Philippines.
|November 1965||A historic meeting of education ministers of Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam, and United States government representative paved the way for an interim Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Secretariat (SEAMES) to be formed to draw up priority projects for the region, including instituting a center for graduate study and research in agriculture.|
|July 1966||At the SEAMES Technical Workshop held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Philippine delegation submitted the position paper that a task force evaluated and for which it recommend a framework for operation.|
|November 1966||The Second Conference of SEAMES held in Manila, Philippines witnessed how the Philippine delegation led by Dr. Dioscoro L. Umali, Dr. Gil F. Saguiguit, and Mr. Onofre D. Corpuz crafted a proposal for grafting the proposed institute to then University of the Philippines College of Agriculture (UPCA) where it will be hosted. The proposal was approved and the institute was officially named the "Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)."|
|1 July 1967- June 1969||SEARCA operated on an interim status during which guidelines for its establishment were firmed up. Dr. Umali served as Director and Dr. Saguiguit as Assistant Director.|
|July 1969||SEARCA’s permanent existence began, made possible by the Letter of Agreement regarding its establishment, operations and funding for a five-year period signed by the SEARCA Director, SEAMES Acting Director, the Philippine Education Secretary representing the host government, and a representative of the United States government, which was the principal donor of funds during the interim period and the first five years of SEARCA’s permanent existence.|
|1969-1979||Since 1969, SEARCA has evolved and operated under the guidance of Five-Year Plans (FYPs), each embodying an overall strategic theme that SEARCA operationalized through its core programs.
During the First and Second FYPs (1969-1974 and 1974-1979), SEARCA’s priority thrust was the generation and transfer of productivity-enhancing agricultural technologies, reflecting the Center’s desire to take advantage of the newly developed high-yielding varieties at that time (called “Green Revolution”).
|1979-1984||In its Third FYP, SEARCA shifted its strategic thrust to the management of the sub-systems that constitute the agricultural system, including the Development and Management of Irrigation Systems, Research Systems, Extension Systems, Post-Production Systems, and Farming Systems.|
|1984-1989||Agricultural and Rural Development was the overall theme of the Fourth FYP, principally through technology generation, verification, packaging, dissemination, and utilization.|
|1989-1994||SEARCA’s Fifth FYP focused on the theme of Evaluation and Testing of Agricultural Development Technologies and Models, with the goal of customizing them to the needs and conditions of the SEAMEO member countries.|
|1994-1999||In the Sixth FYP, SEARCA intensified its thrust in Developing and Testing Methodologies and Approaches to the broad and complex area of Agricultural Development. Its major R & D projects included the Development of Upland Communities, Agro-industrialization, Gender and Development, Management of Agricultural Information, Coastal Area Agriculture, and Bio-fertilizer Research.|
|1999-2004||In cadence with the changing conditions of the Southeast Asian region, the strategic theme of SEARCA’s Seventh FYP shifted to Natural Resource Management (NRM) and Agro-Industrial Development. The sub-themes of the Seventh FYP included Food Security, Biotechnology, Water Resource Management, Biodiversity Conservation, Climate Change, and Environmental Risk Management.|
|2004-2014||The Eight and Ninth FYPs (2004/2009 and 2009/2014) of the Center adopted basically similar strategic themes: Natural Resource Management (NRM) and Agricultural Competitiveness.
NRM projects implemented were in the areas of Sustainable Land Use and Water Management, Climate Change and Risk Management, and Biodiversity Conservation, while Agricultural Competitiveness projects covered Trade and Investment, Technology Management, Governance, Institutional Reforms, and Policy Studies.
In July 2014, SEARCA began implementing its Tenth FYP (2014/2015-2018/2019), which focuses on the overarching theme of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD). The Center is currently headed by Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA Director, having been appointed to an unprecedented third three-year term.
Now celebrating its 50th founding anniversary, SEARCA continues to carry out its mandate to strengthen capacities of institutions working toward agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia through its core programs on graduate education and institutional development, research and development, and knowledge management.
Graduate Education and Institutional Development Through its Graduate Education and Institutional Development (GEID) Program, SEARCA provides degree and non-degree scholarships to qualified Southeast Asians working in agriculture and rural development, including grants for full graduate programs, PhD research, and academic bridging and sandwich programs. In addition, SEARCA is also implementing the joint scholarship projects with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), and Philippine Carabao Center (PCC). As of academic year 2016/2017, SEARCA has awarded a total of 1,619 master’s and PhD scholarships to Southeast Asians.
Since its establishment in 1974, the SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair has evolved to benefit outstanding Southeast Asian experts in the academe and promote academic excellence in agriculture and related sciences.
Currently, SEARCA belongs to several international education networks, including the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC); Food Security Center (FSC); Exchange by Promoting Quality Education, Research and Training in South and Southeast Asia (ExPERTS) Consortium; Association of Asian Agricultural Colleges and Universities (AAACU), and the Asia Life Sciences, Food, Agriculture, Biology, Economics, Technology (ALFABET).
Offered for the first time in October 2014, the SEARCA Summer School focused on Food and Nutrition Security for Sustainable Development. This postgraduate course was one of SEARCA's new initiatives under its new strategic plans and was eventually taken in by the UC, a network of top agricultural universities in Southeast Asia committed to share academic expertise and information that was initiated by SEARCA in 1989.
Through its Institutional Development Assistance (IDA) Program, the Center is also helping young and strategic higher education institutions with core competencies in agriculture and development disciplines. As such, it targets agricultural universities that are lagging in academic capacities but are strategically located in economic growth areas and expected to play a vital role in its country’s economic development. Partner-beneficiaries of SEARCA’s IDA Program include Savannakhet University (SKU) in Lao PDR, Yezin Agricultural University (YAU) in Myanmar, Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) in Cambodia, and Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) in Timor-Leste.
Research and Development
SEARCA’s Research and Development (R&D) Program fosters an environment of evidence-based investigations, action research, and holistic and participatory development interventions through collaboration. Anchored on ISARD as its overarching theme, the Center's research initiatives are of regional relevance and aim to generate knowledge, lessons, and insights that will influence policy, investments, and other actions toward ISARD. Such initiatives include research projects, policy roundtables, conferences and other forums, research and travel grants, fellows programs, and a regional achievement award in agricultural development.
Specifically, SEARCA’s research activities are focused on social inclusion, environmental sustainability, regional and sub-regional cooperation, and institutions and governance. The Center will also invest in ground-level interventions—that is, pilot-testing and up-scaling of effective models of ISARD—to improve the lives of farmers and rural communities. SEARCA also develops integrated agenda for collaborative research, capacity development, and knowledge management using the umbrella framework approach. Already in place is its Umbrella Program on Food and Nutrition Security for Southeast Asia 2014-2019 and its Umbrella Program on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation for Southeast Asia 2015-2020.
Soon to be released is the complete second edition of the Southeast Asian Agriculture and Development Primer Series published by SEARCA. The series comprises a volume each for the 11 Southeast Asian countries, which presents each country’s state of agriculture in a holistic yet concise form. The second edition of the volume on Malaysia is now available. The first edition presents the institutions, structures, policies, and other areas affecting the sector’s performance from the 1980s through the subsequent 30 years. The second edition will provide an analysis of each country’s experiences, lessons, and insights on policy reforms and institutional innovations in the agriculture sector.
SEARCA supports the continuous learning, knowledge sharing and use of decision makers, leaders, scholars, researchers, and key actors in agricultural and rural development through learning forums, seminars, trainings, and publications. In addition to books, monographs, discussion paper series, and policy briefs, SEARCA also publishes the Asian Journal of Agricultural Development (AJAD) and the Southeast Asian Agriculture and Development Primer Series.
Its training courses serve as SEARCA’s fast lane to developing the capacities of Southeast Asian nationals and institutions. SEARCA also maintains two virtual knowledge centers: Biotechnology Information Center (BIC) and the Knowledge Center on Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management in Southeast Asia (KC3).
Project Development and Technical Services
SEARCA’s Project Development and Technical Services (PDTS) focuses on developing flagship projects that promote cross-cutting concerns and synergy among the Center’s three core programs for greater impact along SEARCA's strategic framework.
Through its PDTS, SEARCA provides high-quality technical services to governments of Southeast Asian countries and other international development organizations to implement high-impact projects in the areas of agriculture and rural development. Backed up by four decades of professional experience, SEARCA carries an extensive track record in managing projects for national institutions and international development organizations.