Philippine government-hosted SEARCA is mandated to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD) in the ASEAN countries plus Timor-Leste through its core programs on graduate education and institutional development, research, and knowledge management.
On the other hand, COA is the authority on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, animal husbandry, and food affairs in Taiwan, and NTU is the most prestigious university in the country with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen among its alumni.
SEARCA's visit to these major agriculture-focused institutions in Taiwan was on the heels of separate visits of NTU and COA officials to the Center in 2017 as they sought to renew ties with SEARCA in light of the Taiwanese government's New Southbound Policy, which seeks new regional partners to enhance economic cooperation, talent exchange, and resource sharing between Taiwan and 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Australasia.
COA and NTU are pivoting their expertise and resources to benefit developing countries in the Southeast Asian region in support of the New Southbound Policy. As such, they are looking at SEARCA as a major partner and a window to the region.
In a planning workshop held on February 8-9, NTU and SEARCA agreed to support scholarships for MS and PhD in biotechnology tenable at NTU's Institute of Biotechnology. Moreover, both institutions are interested in jointly developing and offering training courses, possibly on the sustainable ecological environment, bio-fertilizers, plant factories, and biotechnology regulations and policymaking, with a view to draw in COA and FFTC into the collaboration.
NTU also expressed interest to join the SEARCA-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC). As the consortium secretariat, SEARCA will facilitate conveying such interest and invitation of NTU as observer in the next UC Executive Board Meeting. In the meantime, NTU will mull possible areas for joint research with SEARCA and the UC members. These may be in food and nutrition security and climate change adaptation and mitigation. (Leah Lyn D. Domingo)