THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

Fulbright sends 15 Filipino scholars to the US

Author: DA Communications Group | 22 June 2021

Fifteen Filipinos are set to pursue higher education in the United States as the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) financing studies in degree and non-degree programs in the United States under the Fulbright Philippines Agriculture Scholarship Program (FPASP).

On June 22, DA Secretary William Dar and PAEF Board Chairperson Philip Roskamp formalized the partnership, which aims to accelerate the transformation of the agri-fishery sector through a professionalization strategy. The DA Secretary sees sustained career tracks in agriculture as investment in human capital development in the sector.

“I have always believed in investing in people. For any initiative to succeed, you will always have to depend on the person you are giving the responsibilities to,” Sec. Dar said.

The agri chief hopes more scholars in the future can populate the increasingly modern and industrial human resource requirements of the sector.

The FPASP, the product of collaboration between PAEF and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), grants scholars stipends consisting of monthly maintenance allowance, books and supplies allowance, health and accident insurance, and roundtrip international airfare.

Visiting/researching scholars are also entitled to monthly stipends and professional development fees, setting-in and in-transit allowance, and grants for Travel Program Evaluation, including its local travel costs, accommodation, and individual stipend and insurance.

According to Fulbright Philippines-PAEF Board Executive Director Julio Amador III, the scholarship program has a budget of PhP 35 million (M). He said the Philippine government, through the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), will be allocating about US$1.3 M for agriculture-related studies in the next three to five years.

The scholarship program covers Academic Year (AY) 2022-2023, AY 2023-2024, and AY 2025-2026.

The PAEF will set the operational guidelines on recruitment, evaluation, interview, and selection of candidates in accordance with Fulbright competition principles.

The FPASP was first established through a MOA signed by former DA Secretary Edgardo Angara to address the urgency of developing the human resource base of the country’s agri-fishery sector, as provided for in the Republic Act 8435 or Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).

Since its establishment in 1999, the program has supported 143 scholars, 84 of whom have obtained their M.S. degrees, 30 their Ph.D. degrees. Twenty-nine more scholars have conducted advanced research, including doctoral dissertation research in agriculture and fisheries.

Past scholars have specialized in areas such as agricultural engineering, environmental/natural resources and forestry, agricultural economics, veterinary medicine, agricultural extension, and fisheries.

The DA chief also challenged aspiring scholars to foray into relatively uncharted studies such as climate change, including climate-smart technologies and new crop varieties and pest and disease management; digital agriculture, molecular biotechnologies, and new scientific tools.

“We are delighted that this scholarship continues and we are hoping that this is not the last batch of scholars. If there is an opportunity in the next 11 months for a new support system, I will be willing to enter into discussion,” he said. ### (Kristel Joyce Merle, DA-AFID)

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