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The College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS), in collaboration with the Netherlands Embassy in the Philippines, the Center for Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship, and the College of Economics and Management, conducted an agri-food lecture titled “Innovation for sustainability: What can the Philippine-Netherlands partnership contribute?”, last March 10 at the SEARCA DL Umali Auditorium.
CAFS Dean Enrico P. Supangco, who formally opened the day’s program, pointed out that the lecture was a timely event as it coincided with the celebration of the 108th Foundation Day anniversary of CAFS to which he said that if it were a human being, he can be called a “super senior citizen” with all the awards that have been bestowed on him.
Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., who formally welcomed the guests, speakers and participants, said that UPLB has been mandated in setting innovation in agriculture and to commence and sustain public service endeavor that will not only benefit our fellow Filipinos, but also promote and advance the inclusive growth in the Philippines. He added that agriculture is integral for our national development and it affects our country’s role position in global relations. Moreover, he said that agriculture is intimately related to problems such as hunger, poverty, malnutrition, livelihood and food security. But amidst all challenges that our country’s agriculture sector faces, we are optimistic in finding solutions to these challenges. He pointed out that these solutions must be efficient, innovative and inspiring. He also expressed hope that the lecture will allow everyone to re-examine our methods and ways of thinking.
Marion Derckx, The Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines, stressed in her keynote message the need to strengthen agriculture by modifying our technologies and providing infrastructure facilities that will help reduce poverty, solve malnutrition and eventually help improve the lives of the Filipinos. She also mentioned the need to make agriculture “sexy” by making innovations that will be appealing to young people. She also expressed her country’s willingness to continue with the partnership by helping the Philippines modernize agriculture through sharing of knowledge and technology.
Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc, general manager of East West Seed-Philippines and one of the plenary lecturers, talked about the potential of vegetables which she considers as the forgotten crop in the Philippines. She presented the importance of vegetables as source of nutrients and income. She also presented challenges in the vegetable industry; but behind these challenges are success stories of farmer heroes who have transitioned from smallholder farmers to commercial farmers. Concluding her presentation, she said that development of the agricultural sector requires the concerted effort of stakeholders in government, farmers, food suppliers, extension workers, academe, and value chain actors. She stressed the need for a more active public-private partnership and inclusive business model.
Dr. Gerth HJ Kema, a plant pathology professor from The Netherlands Wageningen University, discussed how The Netherlands made the agricultural sector attractive to young people by applying science and technology to the field and how the use of advance technology guarantees stable and relatively high profit for farmers.
Dr. Fenton D. Beed, regional director for East and Southeast Asia Operations of World Vegetable Center, presented the whole picture of agriculture from production to consumption and how to prevent or minimize postharvest losses.
The agri-food lecture was also attended by Dr. Rex B. Demafelis, vice-chancellor for research and extension; college deans namely: Dr. Felino P. Lansigan (Arts and Sciences), Dr. Isabelita M. Pabuayon (Economics and Management), Dr. Willie P. Abasolo (Forestry and Natural Resources), Dr. Raden G. Piadozo (Human Ecology) and Dr. Jose V. Camacho (Graduate School); faculty, alumni and students. (Imelda M. Gesmundo, photo courtesy of OPR)