“We all know that it is very costly to do research, and if we do not use the results of research, then it is a waste of money,” said Hon. Fortunato T. Dela Peña, Secretary of Science and Technology, in his keynote address during the opening program of the International Conference on Food and Agriculture (ICFA) on March 2 at SEARCA Umali Auditorium.
Sec. Dela Peña said this in relation to the role of agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources research and development (R&D) agenda in improving the country’s competitiveness.
“We are working hard on the strategies that we have in this administration to see to it that the results of research are utilized, whether they will be picked up by our other line agencies like the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, or the Department of Health, or whether they will be picked up by the private sector so that they can utilize these results into economic activities, or these can be adopted by communities so that they can have improved living conditions,” said Sec. Dela Peña.
ICFA is helping realize this with more than 80 research results to be presented in parallel sessions during the Conference. These studies, conducted by scientists, researchers, and students from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, and Australia tackle issues on food security, poverty and rural development, climate change, globalization, human capital development, and innovation.
The theme for the Conference is “Sharing knowledge, creating solutions: capacitating stakeholders of agriculture for Future Earth.”
Another keynote speaker was Dr. Mohd Nordin Bin Hasan, chairman of the Regional Advisory Committee for Future Earth Asia and professor emeritus at the Institute for Environment and Development, University Kebangsan in Malaysia.
Dr. Bin Hasan described Future Earth as a new international platform for research on global sustainability that promotes and enhances the conduct of integrated research on global change challenges and transformations to sustainability. He emphasized the importance of transdisciplinary studies in finding solutions to agriculture problems, and recognized that agriculture in itself falls under various disciplines.
Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., in his welcome message, also noted of the principles of Future Earth. “The gargantuan challenges we face are best solved through an interdisciplinary approach, and the Future Earth initiative fully recognizes this,” he said. “UP Los Baños is a staunch advocate of interdisciplinary research, and our interdisciplinary studies centers are testament to this.”
UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, in his message delivered by Dr. Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr., vice president for public affairs, recognized UP and UPLB’s role in food and agriculture education and research. “This is a key area where better knowledge would have direct impact on the lives of many millions of people, not just in the Philippines, but around the region and the world where hunger, malnutrition, and access to resources remain a pernicious problem.”
A plenary session was held on the first day of ICFA. Dr. Howarth Bouis, founding director and ambassador-at-large of Harvest Plus, talked about the cost-effectiveness of biofortification among crops. Dr. Bouis is also a visiting fellow at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
On the other hand, Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino, IRRI’s deputy director general for communication and partnerships, highlighted the role and situation of rice in food security, development, and climate change; while Dr. Paul Teng, principal officer and professor at the National Institute of Education of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, suggested eight ways to solve food security. He also emphasized that “producing enough food is just only one part of the equation to achieve food security.”
Present during the opening program were Dr. Isabelita Pabuayon, dean of the College of Economics and Management (CEM) and Dr. Ma. Eden Piadozo, chair of CEM’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics (DAAE), who gave the welcome address and opening remarks, respectively. DAAE-CEM spearheads ICFA.
Also present were Prof. Julieta Delos Reyes, assistant to the vice chancellor for academic affairs; deans of colleges, namely: Dr. Arnold Elepaño (engineering and agro-industrial technology); Dr. Raden Piadozo (human ecology); and Dr. Jose Camacho, Jr. (Graduate School); and Dr. Ruben Villareal, former UPLB chancellor.
ICFA is being conducted in partnership with SEAMEO-SEARCA, Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research; DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development; and IRRI. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)