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Filipino early-career researchers hone project development expertise to compete for $20,000 grants

Young Filipino researchers joined their contemporaries from Indonesia and Vietnam in a recent mentorship workshop that helped them improve their proficiency in crafting research proposals with the long view of improving the quality and effectiveness of research in agriculture and food systems.

The mentorship workshop was convened by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in partnership with the Sweden-based International Foundation for Science (IFS).

Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, said the workshop is an integral part of the IFS-SEARCA Mentorship Program for Advance Grants for individual and collaborative research initiatives that will contribute to solutions in times of crisis such as the global pandemic.

For her part, Dr. Nighisty Ghezae, IFS Director, noted that “the pandemic has laid bare the weaknesses in the global food system, the risks of excessive agri-food value chain specialization and concentration, and the need for built-in redundancy as systemic insurance in the face of natural and manmade shocks that scientists expect will grow in frequency and severity in the years ahead.”

Dr. Gregorio said IFS and SEARCA have partnered for the mentorship program to help strengthen the research processes of established scientists and early-career researchers. He added that the mentorship program also intends to ensure that their projects are of high quality and produce useful results.

This was affirmed by the IFS Director who said that to help address growing problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, IFS and SEARCA initiated the Call for Research on Food Security in Southeast Asia. The call focused on initiatives that contribute to solutions or provide evidence in support of food security policy and programming during this time of global pandemic, economic and social crisis.

According to Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, SEARCA Program Head for Research and Thought Leadership, the workshop participants are IFS-SEARCA grant applicants who passed the pre-screening and have been recommended for continued consideration for funding support of up to US$20,000.

The workshop focused on current issues in agriculture, food systems, and climate change as well as discussions on research concepts, approaches, designs, methods, and data analysis. Dr. Orencio said this part of the workshop helped the participants refine their research proposals.

He added that the expectations and skills associated with advanced research were also discussed to prepare them for future engagement in the global mission to fight food insecurity, reduce poverty, and support sustainable development.

Presentations by the participants, featuring lessons they learned and how they plan to reflect these in their research proposal revisions, capped the virtual workshop which ran last June 15-21.



Since its establishment in 1966, SEARCA’s main mandate has been to build capacities in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia. From 2020 to 2025, SEARCA’s programs are geared towards accelerating transformation through agricultural innovation (ATTAIN) to elevate the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets. SEARCA’s five-year development strategy is articulated through its core programs on Education and Collective Learning via Graduate Scholarship and Institutional Development and Training for Development, Research and Thought Leadership, and Emerging Innovation for Growth. SEARCA serves the 11 Southeast Asian countries, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. It is hosted by the Philippine government and its headquarters is located on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).