The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) based on Los Baños, Laguna, is taking the lead for a collaborative umbrella program on food security research for the Southeast Asian region.
Searca Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said that in general, the proposed Umbrella Program on Food Security for Southeast Asia may be guided by the following principles: inclusiveness and participation, collaboration, sustainability, supply and value-added chains, ecosystems approach (i.e., landscape/watershed approach), partnership with private sector, link to policy, climate change risks, and vulnerability management.
“What we are seeking is a framework that will assure food security for Southeast Asia, taking into account factors like climate change, active participation of stakeholders and population increase, among others,” he added.
To jumpstart the initiative, Searca conducted on July 25 to 26 a workshop that aimed to develop a unified and integrated agenda for collaborative research, capacity development and knowledge management on food security among members of the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources and their partner institutions.
Searca noted that agriculture’s performance in Southeast Asia has declined in recent years. In some Asian countries, agriculture’s share to gross domestic product has dropped to about 18 percent.
The 2007 to 2008 food price shocks, which started in South Asia and eventually spilled over to Southeast Asia, demonstrated how vulnerable Southeast Asian economies are in terms of ensuring food security.
Saguiguit said that although governments apply different approaches to deal with food insecurity, taking into consideration their specific country contexts and varying levels of development, many countries are facing and will face the same issues of assuring food security.
Searca is a strategic partner of the Food Security Center of the University of Hohenheim in Germany, which is mandated to provide innovative and effective scientific contributions to reduce hunger and achieve food security.