Photo by: LB Times
Inaugural meeting held for UPLB Agricultural Genomics Center steering committee

The project steering committee for the UPLB Agricultural Genomics Research Center (UPLB-AGRC) held its first meeting last March 26. It was attended by key figures, such as UPLB Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, IRRI Chief of Staff Alvin Poncin, and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Country Director Kim Eunsub. 

The UPLB-AGRC is part of a larger project titled “Capacity-Building for Higher Education and the Establishment of Agricultural Genomics Research Center at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.”

“Today we stand at the beginning of an exciting journey, one that, in many ways, promises to redefine the landscape of agricultural research and education in the Philippines,” Chancellor Camacho said in his message. “[The collaboration] reflects our united commitment to advancing agricultural genomics, enhancing our higher education capacity, and ultimately contributing to the sustainable development of our agricultural sector.”

IRRI’s Interim Director General, Dr. Ajay Kohli, remarked that through this partnership with KOICA, UPLB could be at the forefront of crop innovation. “The next era that is coming in terms of plant breeding and agriculture is indeed going to be genomics-based,” he said in a virtual message.

Significant progress had already been made in the project, said KOICA Country Director Kim Eunsub, citing the ground-breaking for the AGRC held last December 2023. He also emphasized the importance of the meeting as an opportunity to cultivate favorable relationships and collaboration among stakeholders.

Chancellor Jose V. Camacho also presented key updates on the project during the meeting. He highlighted the project’s human resource development component, which involved the provision of PhD scholarship grants to UPLB faculty and researchers in Korea. Currently, eight PhD candidates are pursuing their doctoral studies in Korean universities, with two more slated to start their studies later this year. 

Other updates covered were the curriculum development for genomics and omics courses in UPLB, the formation of a consortium among Filipino universities offering omics courses, and UPLB’s participation in future international agricultural genomics conferences.

Also included in the discussion was the proposal of the Korea-Philippine Omics Partnership Network (KPOP-Net). This network aims to facilitate collaboration in agricultural genomics among universities and institutions between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea, fostering the exchange of academic programs, modules, and expertise.

An open forum was conducted after the project updates. Among the topics discussed were construction concerns, the third national conference of genomics, and the schedule for the next project steering committee meeting.

National Scientist Dr. Dolores A. Ramirez, representing the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), also expressed her delight about the progress of the Agricultural Genomics Research Center. “In my younger days, I was … always dreaming about it,” she said. “And finally, it’s come to realization.”
The meeting culminated with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between UPLB, KOICA, and IRRI, with the participation of representatives from DOST-PCAARRD, CHED, the Department of Agriculture, NAST, and NEDA (Jill Parreño).

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