SEARCA bats for transformative innovation amid pandemic

Revolutionizing the agriculture industry will make it more sustainable and resilient even after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) advises. 

During the recent Dagyaw 2020: Open Government Virtual Town Hall Meeting, SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the gaps in the supply chain and consumption system yet to be addressed. 

Agri most hit by COVID

Relevant economic sectors in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, suffered from supply and demand shock after the agriculture industry recorded great losses. 

SEARCA reported that 31% of the combined population in the South East Asian region rely on agriculture and its related industries. 

Majority of Filipinos are engaged in agricultural activities, accounting for 23% of the local labor force. 

Around 17.03 million tonnes were also lost in regional productivity due to decline in labor. 

Changing perspectives

“Given the complexity of the agriculture sector, we have to partner together, the government and the academe, to make this happen,” Gregorio assured.

Having a business-oriented outlook at the agricultural sector will motivate farmers and landowners to create long term and resilient plans for their crops. 

SEARCA suggested seven priority areas for transformation, including: farmer-centric and market-centric extension systems, improved access to farming inputs, adoption of financial technology and business models, market-led agri-innovation and, technology hubs for agricultural food systems. 

Revolutionizing agriculture education

Improving the agricultural sector must start in schools, according to Department of Agriculture CALABARZON regional director Arnel de Mesa.

Graduates of agriculture technology courses can help their families local farmers and their children can help the industry become more productive. 

De Mesa also expressed his hopes that graduates in these programs will be involved in agribusiness, technology and agriculture arts to usher the sector’s holistic growth. (PB/PIA4A)