Siem Reap – Cambodia recently hosted the 71st Governing Board Meeting (GBM) of the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in Siem Reap province. The event marked a significant occasion for the region’s agricultural development and research.
According to Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP), the meeting was attended by high-ranking Cambodian officials, including H.E. Dr. Touch Visalsok, Secretary of State, Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MoEYS), who represented H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the MoEYS. The meeting underscored the role of SEARCA in advancing agricultural research and human resource development in Southeast Asia.
In his address, H.E. Dr. Visalsok, a SEARCA alumnus, highlighted the Centre’s crucial contribution to building agricultural human resources in the region. He noted that SEARCA’s scholarship program has enabled thousands of Southeast Asian nationals to contribute significantly to agricultural research and regional collaboration.
The meeting also recognized Mr. Ty Channa, Director of the Department of Personnel and Human Resource Development at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), and former SEARCA GB Member, for his contributions to the Centre. Dr. Ngo Bunthan and Dr. Seng Mom from the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), both former Country Representatives of Cambodia in the SEARCA Governing Board, were also present.
This year’s GBM, held at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort, represented a departure from the tradition of holding the meeting in the Philippines, SEARCA’s host country. This was the first time in five years that the meeting took place outside of the Philippines.
During the opening ceremony, Dr. Glenn Gregorio, Centre Director of SEARCA, reflected on the challenges faced during the implementation of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2020-2025), especially amidst the pandemic. He emphasized SEARCA’s resilience and the importance of collaboration to overcome challenges and advance agricultural development in Southeast Asia.
University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Chancellor Jose Camacho, Jr., the Philippines’ representative to the SEARCA Governing Board, acknowledged the vision of UPLB officials in establishing SEARCA and its role in agricultural human resource development.
The Governing Board conducted an assessment of SEARCA’s performance for Fiscal Year 2022/2023, focusing on regional activities and financial resources. The meeting facilitated discussions on enhancing SEARCA’s programs to address agricultural challenges in the region effectively.
Elected for a two-year term were Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sutkhet Nakasathien of Thailand as the new SEARCA Governing Board Chair, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chew Fook Tim of Singapore as Vice Chair, and Dr. Somphong Chanthavong as Chief Rapporteur. Other GB members from Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand attended, with Indonesia’s representative joining virtually.
The meeting underscored the collaborative efforts and commitment of Southeast Asian nations in advancing agricultural research and development through SEARCA’s initiatives.