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 January 07 2009
(Left) FFTC Director Lee speaks before the PCARRD directorate and staff while PCARRD Executive Director Dr. Patricio S. Faylon listens. (Right) Director Lee with SEARCA officials and staff.

(Left) FFTC Director Lee speaks before the PCARRD directorate and staff while PCARRD Executive Director Dr. Patricio S. Faylon listens. (Right) Director Lee with SEARCA officials and staff.

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA, PHILIPPINES – In one of his first official visits to an FFTC member country since his appointment, FFTC Director Jen-Chyuan Lee met with officials and staff of three partner organizations based in the agricultural science and technology community of Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines in November 2008.

His first meeting was at the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), initiated primarily to further strengthen the partnership between FFTC and PCARRD on capacity building in agriculture in the Asian region. PCARRD is one of the major partner institutions of FFTC in the Philippines, with the PCARRD Executive Director designated to serve as Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) member of the Center. PCARRD has also co-sponsored and co-implemented several projects with FFTC, such as seminars and workshops highlighting various innovative technologies with regional significance, and which address immediate problems of and open new opportunities for small-scale farmers in Asia.

PCARRD Executive Director, Dr. Patricio S. Faylon, together with the PCARRD Directorate and Staff, warmly welcomed Director Lee during his courtesy visit to the PCARRD Headquarters on November 24. During the meeting, Dr. Faylon introduced PCARRD and its place in the country’s science and technology system. Meanwhile, Dr. Danilo C. Cardenas, PCARRD Deputy Executive Director for research and development, presented the Council’s priority programs on which the two organizations can collaborate. In response, Director Lee acknowledged FFTC and PCARRD’s years of collaboration and partnership, and expressed FFTC’s continuous support to this relationship under his leadership.

Director Lee’s next stop was at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in UP Los Baños on November 26, where he met with Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., Deputy Director for Administration; Dr. Arnulfo G. Garcia, Head, Research and Development Program; Dr. Maria Celeste H. Cadiz, Head, Training Department; and Ms. Nova A. Ramos, Training Associate, Training Department.

The meeting at SEARCA was envisioned to serve as a venue for the two regional organizations in Asia to discuss new avenues and opportunities to pursue collaborative undertakings of common interest to both, such as the conduct of training courses for agricultural researchers/technicians from the Asian region, and organizing regional forum/conferences on key agricultural issues and concerns participated in by scientists, researchers, extension workers, as well as policy and decision makers. Other concepts as well as possible mechanisms and strategies were discussed during the meeting toward further realizing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between SEARCA and FFTC in 2006.

At SEARCA, Dr. Saguiguit gave a brief introduction of the organization – its mandate, organizational structure, activities, and strategic plan. He also described SEARCA’s commitment in strengthening institutional capacity in agricultural and rural development through graduate education, research, training, and knowledge exchange which, according to him very much complements the agricultural capacity building and technology dissemination mandate of FFTC.

In response, Director Lee emphasized that the overall goal of FFTC is to promote sustainable agricultural development in the Asian and Pacific (ASPAC) region, focused primarily on improved productivity, fostering the sustainable use of natural resources, and increased income and improved livelihood of small-scale farmers. He added that FFTC is also committed to promote food security and food safety issues in the next 5 years, toward contributing to the advancement of economic and efficient production of safe and quality foods, as well as to sustainable production methods to prevent harm to human health and the environment. Director Lee expressed his commitment to strengthen FFTC’s technical partnership with SEARCA in the areas of agricultural biotechnology and food safety.

Lastly, Director Lee met with Chancellor Dr. Luis Rey Velasco of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on November 27 and had the opportunity to discuss possible areas of partnership between Taiwan and the Philippines’ premier universities in agriculture. Recognizing the need to maintain academic excellence in the region as well as to share new knowledge in view of recent trends arising from the increasing role of agriculture in the global economy, the two officials discussed the possibility of providing opportunities for deserving UPLB students to pursue higher education in Taiwan universities.