TAIWAN is looking at the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) as major partner and a window to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in agriculture and rural development.
Searca officials, during a recent visit to Taiwan, discussed with the Council of Agriculture (CoA) Executive Yuan, National Taiwan University (NTU) and the Taiwan-based Food and Fertilizer Technology Center (FFTC) common interests and priority concerns that will be the basis for collaborations in research, graduate education and institutional development and knowledge management initiatives.
Searca is mandated to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development in Asean countries and Timor-Leste through its core programs in graduate education and institutional development, research and knowledge management.
The Council of Agriculture is the authority in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, animal husbandry and food affairs in Taiwan, while the NTU is regarded as the most prestigious university in Taiwan with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen among its alumni.
Gil Saguiguit Jr., Searca director, said their recent 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.
The visitors, accoding to Saguiguit, 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.
The CoA and the 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,” Saguiguit said.
He added that in a planning workshop held last February 8-9, the NTU and SEARCA agreed to support scholarships for Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in biotechnology tenable at the NTU’s Institute of Biotechnology.
Saguiguit said both institutions are interested in jointly developing and offering training courses, possibly on sustainable ecological environment, bio-fertilizers, plant factories and biotechnology regulations and policy-making, with a view to draw in the CoA and the FFTC into the collaboration.
He noted the NTU’s 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 to the NTU as observer in the next UC Executive Board Meeting,” Saguiguit said.
In the meantime, he added, the NTU will mull possible areas for joint research with Searca and the UC members, possibly in food and nutrition security and climate change adaptation and mitigation.