Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, Jr. has been appointed as the new executive director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute, an agency under the Department of Agriculture. During the turnover ceremony on 18 July 2011, Dr. Rasco mentioned Agriculture Secretary Alcala’s directive to ensure PhilRice’s strong support to the government’s goal of rice self-sufficiency by 2013, particularly in the supply of high quality seeds and in developing and adapting technologies for upland rice farming.
In 2009, prior to his appointment as director of Philrice, Dr. Rasco was a professor of University of the Philippines in Mindanao. Dr. Rasco was also conferred the title of Academician by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and received an award from the Philippine Jaycees, among others, for his contributions in the field of plant breeding. He was involved in several research activities on vegetables, potato and sweet potato breeding and agronomy, development of underutilized crops, farming on slopes, genetically modified crops, and sustainability of modern agriculture. He has published papers in several journals and authored books on biotechnology.
Dr. Rasco completed his Master of Science in Agriculture at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) under the SEARCA Graduate Scholarship program in 1974. He finished his PhD in Plant Breeding at Cornell University, USA. (source: Philrice & DOST-NAST, ZRJalotjot)

The European Commission (EC), through the Erasmus Mundus EURASIA 2 Project, has recently awarded scholarship grants to four lecturers and researchers of Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Two of the scholarship grantees are SEARCA alumni: Ms. Yoeu Asikin, Lecturer, Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, and Mr. Nguon Samnang, Assistant Dean and Lecturer, Faculty of Agro-Industry. Both completed their master’s degrees in agricultural economics and food science, respectively, from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in 2010, with funding support from SEARCA's Graduate Scholarship Program.


They will start their doctoral studies in July 2011. Ms. Asikin will study agricultural economics in Montpellier SupAgro, an international center of higher education in agricultural sciences in France. On the other hand, Mr. Samnang will study food science at Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic.

Ms. Asikin and Mr. Samnang expressed their sincere appreciation to SEARCA for jumpstarting their academic training and professional careers. "I would like to convey my sincere thanks to SEARCA and UPLB for granting and leading me to another step in my academic program and career," wrote Ms. Asikin. "We are grateful to SEARCA for ... (its) support to our university," added Mr. Samnang.

The two other Erasmus Musdus scholarship recipients are Mr.Chankakada Chhoeum and Mr.Kimchhin Sok. Both will undertake master's programs.

Launched in 2004, Erasmus Mundus is a mobility program aimed at enhancing quality in higher education through scholarships and academic cooperation between Europe and other countries. It also supports the establishment of cooperation partnerships between European higher education institutions from targeted Third Countries with the objective of organizing and implementing structured individual mobility arrangements between the European and Third Country partners.

SEARCA is involved as associate partner in several undertakings supported by Erasmus Mundus, such as the Exchange by Promoting Quality Education, Research, and Training in South and Southeast Asia (EXPERTS) project, European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development (AGRINATURA), and Innovative Skills for Agriculture and Rural Trainers through Transnational Exchanges (AGRI-TRAIN). (MTBFerino)

Dr. Rusty G. Abanto, Assistant Professor of Camarines Norte State College (CNSC) in Camarines Norte, Philippines, was recently chosen to participate in the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) at the University of Califorina (UC), Berkeley, USA. The Beahrs ELP is a three-week intensive summer course, which seeks to broaden knowledge and strengthen leadership skills of mid-level development and environment professionals in addressing complex environmental issues to reduce poverty and social conflict. Organized by UC Berkeley’s Center for Sustainable Resource Development, this year’s ELP will be on 24 June – 16 July.

Dr. Abanto is the second recipient of the Special SEARCA-Beahrs ELP Training Scholarship in Environmental Leadership for Southeast Asia, a joint program begun in 2010 by SEARCA and the Beahrs ELP. The first recipient is Dr. Nguyen Viet Dang, Lecturer and Researcher, Faculty of Economics and

Rural Development, Hanoi University of Agriculture, Vietnam. Dr. Dang is also a SEARCA graduate alumnus (PhD, agricultural economics, University of the Philippines Los Baños, 2009). The SEARCA-Beahrs ELP Training Scholarship intends to equip its grantees to play strategic roles toward instituting sustainable environmental policy and leading cross-sectoral environmental initiatives in their respective countries.

“I hope that my participation in the program will help me understand more the complexities of the environment toward identifying solutions that will lead to sustainable environmental management,” said Dr. Abanto. “It is also my wish that the program will enhance my capacity as a leader so that I can apply and translate into concrete actions the leadership skills and knowledge I will gain in my own country, particularly in my own institution – the Camarines Norte State College,” Dr. Abanto added.

Dr. Abanto completed his PhD in environmental science in 2010 from UPLB under the SEARCA-DAAD scholarship program. An outstanding graduate student of UPLB, he received the


university’s academic achievement award during his graduation. He currently chairs CNSC’s Environmental Management Department. He had served also as Director for Planning of CNSC, during which he played a vital role (as a member of the technical working group of the provincial government of Camarines Norte) in crafting the Environmental Code and Provincial Physical Framework Plan. He has also been providing technical assistance to local government units, particularly in environmental management, preparation of land-use plans, and in implementing an effective ecological waste management plan.

The Special SEARCA-Beahrs ELP scholarship is an annual grant open to qualified nationals of SEAMEO member-countries (i.e., Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam) who are involved in sustainable agriculture, rural development or natural resource management; and affiliated with the government, a nongovernment organization or a policy-oriented academic institution that addresses environmental management/sustainable agriculture. More details of this grant may be found at (MTBFerino)


Seven SEARCA graduate alumni were among the participants in three recent international events at SEARCA. They are Dr. Ker Montivuth (Ph.D., community development, University of the Philippines Los Baños), Acting Director, Department of Administration, Planning, Accounting and International Cooperation, General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Dr. Heng Naret (Ph.D., community development, UPLB), Lecturer and Researcher, Sociology Department, Royal University of Phnom Penh, both of Cambodia; Dr. Concepcion R. Bravo (Ph.D., entomology, UPLB), Professor, University of Southern Mindanao, and Ms. Josefina M. Ocampo, Land Management Inspector, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (DENR-PENRO), Los Baños, Laguna, both of the Philippines; Mr. Wiroj Saengbangka, Expert, Farmers and Farmers Organization Development, Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand; Dr. Vo Thai Dan (M.S., integrated tropical agriculture & forestry science, University of Goettingen, Germany), Assistant Dean,

Faculty of Agriculture, Nong Lam University, Ho Chi Minh City, and Dr. Bui Dung The (Ph.D., agricultural economics, UPLB), Director, Office of Science-Technology, International Cooperation and Postgraduate Education, Hue College of Economics, both of Vietnam.

Dr. Ker Montivuth, Dr. Vo Thai Dan, and Dr. Concepcion R. Bravo participated in the “Seminar-workshop on Strategic Communication on Agricultural Biotechnology Using Risk Communication Methodology” held on 17-18 February 2011. The interactive workshop was conducted by SEARCA in partnership with the Singapore-based Asia BioBusiness Private Limited; it was aimed at addressing biotechnology issues and concerns using risk communication tools. This was attended by experts in agriculture and biotechnology from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and Peru.



Dr, Naret, Dr. The, and Ms. Ocampo, on the other hand, attended the “International Training Course on Vulnerability and Socio-Economic Analysis” conducted on 4-8 April 2011. This learning event is part of a SEARCA project titled Building Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change for Selected Southeast Asian Countries: Vulnerability Assessment for Economic Analysis of Adaptation, a two-year project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. The training course sought to enhance the capacity of researchers and local partners in conducting research and mainstreaming economically viable adaptation options in development planning and implementation.

Back in November 2010, Mr. Wiroj likewise participated in the “Roundtable on Achieving Greater Food Security in Asia through Improved Information Network.” This meeting identified key recommendations and research to further strengthen the food security information system in the region. The two-day meeting was organized in collaboration with the Food Security Center, Hohenheim University, Germany and S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. It was attended by policymakers and decision-makers from 11 Southeast Asian countries. (MTBFerino)

A recent study conducted by a Filipino SEARCA graduate alumnus reveals that roasting coffee beans at varying degrees yielded a significant effect on the phenolic content and antioxidant activity of commercially-viable varieties of Philippine coffee. Dr. Ruel M. Mojica (PhD, agricultural engineering, UPLB), currently Assistant Professor of the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering of Cavite State University (CvSU), Philippines, undertook the study titled, “Influence of Roasting on the Phenolic Content and Antioxidant Activity of

the Philippine Coffee” as part of his University of the Philippines-Natural Sciences Research Institute and the Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (UP-NSRI/DA-BAR) postdoctoral research fellowship. His findings, published by DA-BAR, are expected to benefit the local coffee makers in producing better coffee blends while considering the health of coffee consumers.


Dr.Mojica had served as chair of his

Department in 2003-2005 and in 2009-2010. He is also an Affiliate Instructor of his university’s Institute of Food Science and Assistant Professor of the Graduate School. He has earned numerous awards for technical paper and poster presentations. Read more


The Indonesian SEARCA Scholars and Fellows Association (ISFA) elected Prof. Dr. Sugeng P. Harianto, Rector of University of Lampung (UNILA) as new ISFA President during the ISFA Congress held in Semarang, Indonesia on 9 December 2010. Prof. Sugeng’s term is effective January 2011. Recently, Prof. Sugeng appointed the following ISFA members to compose the new executive committee of the association: Vice President – Dr. Christine Wulandari, Senior Lecturer, Department of Forestry Management, Faculty of Agriculture, UNILA; Secretary – Dr. Maria Viva Rini, Lecturer, Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, UNILA; Treasurer – Dr. Sri Murwani Soetarno Hendro, M.Sc., Lecturer, Department of Biology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, UNILA

and Dr. Ellyzarti Muchrimsyah, Lecturer, Department of Biology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, UNILA; and Communications Officer – Dr. Farida Zulkarnaen Fathul, Lecturer, Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, UNILA and Dr. Netty Yuliana, Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Product Technology, UNILA.


Moreover, point persons for some Indonesian universities were previously identified. They are: University of Diponegoro – Dr. Agus Setiadi, Lecturer, Faculty of Animal Agriculture, and Dr. Rully Rahadian, Lecturer, Department of Biology; Universitas Gadjah Mada – Dr. Dyah Ismoyowati, Director, Center for Rural and Regional Development Studies; Institut Pertanian Bogor – Dr. Kukuh Murtilaksono, Head, Center for Environmental Research; and University of Jenderal Soedirman – Dr. Nurul Anwar, Vice Rector

for Academic Affairs. The point persons are expected to facilitate the dissemination of information regarding the alumni and SEARCA among their colleagues. (LLTallafer)


A SEARCA graduate alumnus and currently a UPLB Centennial Professorial Chair holder, Dr. Inocencio Buot Jr. gave a lecture on the status, issues, and concerns on mangrove diversity in the Philippines. Dr. Buot, a UPLB professor of ecology and systematic botany, discussed the

role of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)


in crafting a sustainable management and conservation strategy for mangrove ecosystems in the country. His professorial lecture was a special feature of SEARCA's Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) on 14 October 2010.



Two SEARCA graduate alumni were recognized by the University of the Philippines Los Baños Alumni Association (UPLBAA) on the occasion of the 92nd UPLB Loyalty Day and Alumni Homecoming.  They are Dr. Narong Sompong (PhD, community development, 1991, UPLB) of Kasetsart University (KU), Thailand and Dr. Yolina T. Castañeto (PhD, forestry, 1997,

UPLB) of Nueva Viscaya State University (NVSU), Philippines.  Both Drs. Narong and Castañeto received their awards during the Alumni Fellowship and Awards Night held at UPLB on 9 October 2010.



A SEARCA Filipino graduate alumnus has recently completed a three-month training in biotechnology in Thailand. Mr. Charlie B. Batin, Science Research Assistant and Affiliate Faculty of the Forestry Department of Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Northern Philippines, was among the 12 successful applicants (out of 89) to receive a scholarship grant this year from Thailand’s National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) to attend the Human Resource Development Program in Biotechnology on 1 July – 30 September 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand.

BIOTEC is a premier research institute in Thailand and Asia, which operates under the auspices of Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Authority. It has been offering annually, since 2001, the HRD Program in Biotechnology to hone the research skills of young researchers in Asia and the Pacific. The participants undergo rigorous training in plant biotechnology, food safety analysis, biodiversity and bioresource utilization.


Dr. Christine Wulandari, Lecturer of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Lampung, Indonesia, was among the nine new grantees of the 2010 SEARCA Seed Fund for Research and Training (SFRT).  Dr. Wulandari’s proposal is titled Prediction of Agroforestry Sustainability on Hutan Marga (customary forest) in Lampung Province. This year’s SFRT grant recipients were announced during SEARCA’s 44th Anniversary Celebration held on 19 November 2010 at SEARCA.

Dr. Wulandari and her research team at the University of Lampung intend

to identify and assess the socioeconomic and biophysical factors affecting the sustainability of agroforestry on hutan marga. The study aims to formulate better management approaches/strategies toward a sustainable agricultural and natural resource development of hutan marga, particularly in West Lampung District, Lampung Province, Indonesia.