THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

Agri chief calls on HEIs to help gov’t in economic recovery efforts

Author: DA Communications Group | 11 August 2021

To help reduce poverty incidence and support the Duterte administration’s economic development efforts, Agriculture Secretary William Dar urges higher education institutions (HEIs) to take an active part in implementing the government’s action plans.

In particular, he underscored the important role of the HEIs in addressing the challenges faced by the Philippine agriculture sector, during the virtual forum on “Viewpoints of the Forerunners: Future of Agriculture and Food Systems,” conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), on August 10, 2021.

“This forum will define the way forward in terms of what is the kind of agriculture that we want to see in this current generation and in the future. There are few things that make me more hopeful about the future than seeing young people studying to bring science and innovation to our agriculture sector,” Secretary Dar said.

“HEIs should proactively engage in creating a quality workforce, driving innovation, increasing employability, upskilling existing workforces, collaborating between education and business, and feeding the country into a knowledge-based economy,” said the DA chief.

He added that while the UPLB is considered as one of the top Philippine universities in terms of research productivity in science, engineering, and health, as reported by the Institutes for Research, Innovation and Scholarship or IRIS, it should step forward in driving agricultural innovation systems in rural areas.

“I believe that you would always like to go farther where we are today — by means of reinventing and strengthening your existing curricular programs, including your science and innovation, and research for development,” he said.

However, he asked the UPLB officials and participants: “Have we measured the degree of influence of UPLB in the transformation of the municipality of Los Baños or the province of Laguna?”

He further challenged them and other HEIs, saying: “If we have not made much impact on the municipality or province where we are hosted, particularly on your research and development, and extension services, then I would say that you have not done much!”

Hence, he said: “We need to rethink, as we all have to play an active part in enhancing the transformation of our agricultural areas.”

He added that “research for development should be the paradigm shift for all HEIs in the country.”

“Quality research begets quality teaching and innovation. And quality teaching and innovation result in quality human capital. Quality human capital attracts investments and eradicates poverty,” the DA chief said.

He also urged the UPLB to come forward in solving pressing issues affecting the agriculture sector, such as the African Swine Fever (ASF) and pest infestations, and contribute in the areas of digitalization, urban agriculture, and creating climate change innovations.

“You are among Philippine agriculture’s brightest hope! You should be relevant, not just excellent. Research must not end in publications alone, and innovation must reach and benefit the grassroots,” he said.

“In all, the UPLB must strive to be part of the development of disruptive technologies in agriculture,” he concluded.

During the forum, he shared with the participants the country’s food security framework and food systems policy shifts under the “new normal.”  ### (Kristel Merle, DA-AFID)

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