ASEAN universities review strengths, gaps and prospects of pasture, forage crops in R&D and university curricula

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Academic executives from six leading agricultural universities in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand were convened by the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) to revisit the status of curricula and research programs on pasture and forage crops at its headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna last April 24-25.

The participating universities are all members of the SEARCA-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC): Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB), Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), and Universitas Brawijaya (UB), all in Indonesia; Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM); Kasetsart University (KU) in Thailand; and University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Deans and heads of animal science and crop science departments of said ASEAN universities identified the strengths, gaps, opportunities, and challenges in curriculum and research programs.

They presented the status of their respective university’s curriculum and research programs on pasture and forage. Ensuing small-group brainstorming sessions enabled them to determine the common issues, gaps, and challenges.

Issues related to university curricula development included the need to increase the number of experts in the field of forage and pasture, strengthen policy support, standardize courses, reevaluate the number of credited units in the courses, improve laboratory facilities, and mobilize additional financial resources.

On the other hand, issues regarding research programs included the decreasing number of students taking up the course, weak communication and networking among forage scientists, lack of government support for research on forage and pasture, and decreasing land area for forage production.

The university executives thus formulated collaborative proposals that aim to help revitalize research and improve curriculum on pasture and forage crops. These include forming a Southeast Asian Forage and Pasture Science Society, conduct of workshops for curriculum standardization in the UC, teacher trainings and student exchanges/internships, joint researches, joint supervision of students, and joint publications, among others.

The roundtable was partially funded by the Food Security Center (FSC) of Germany’s University of Hohenheim. The FSC is one of five centers of excellence under the program EXCEED – Higher Education in Development Cooperation funded by the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

SEARCA has been a strategic partner of the FSC since 2009.

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