By Estrella Z. Gallardo
The DOST-PCAARRD Directors’ Council (DC), led by Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, Acting Executive Director, welcomed the Ambassador and other delegates from the Australian Embassy and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The guests were toured at the S&T Promotion Hub of the DOST-PCAARRD Innovation and Technology Center (DPITC), which features the technologies and innovations generated from R&D projects implemented by DOST-PCAARRD’s partners in the AANR sector.
His Excellency Steven J. Robinson visited the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) on February 28, 2019 on his 49th day as the newly appointed Australian Ambassador to the Philippines.
The visit was part of his itinerary to meet with Australia’s key partners in Los Baños and with several Australia Awards scholars.
Dr. Ebora reiterated the deep and longstanding partnership of Australia and the Philippines, through ACIAR and PCAARRD. He also mentioned the growing Filipino scholars, leaders, and change-makers who are beneficiaries of various capability building programs, and degree and non-degree trainings being offered by esteemed Australian universities and institutions. Ebora assured the Ambassador of PCAARRD’s active cooperation and commitment to nurture its partnership with ACIAR as brought by the revitalized Partnering Arrangement signed last December 2018 in Canberra, Australia.
On the other hand, the Ambassador shared his excitement to be in Los Baños, where many partner institutions of Australia are based. He expressed his interest in getting to know these institutions further, as well as his enthusiasm to lead and strengthen diplomatic relations during his term in the Philippines. He remarked that he will always remember the PCAARRD-ACIAR partnership because it has spanned more than 30 years, the same duration when he has been in diplomatic service.
PCAARRD-Policy Coordination and Monitoring Division (PCMD) Director Dr. Lilian G. Bondoc provided a brief background on the partnership between ACIAR and PCAARRD. Dr. Bondoc mentioned the nine projects that are being funded by ACIAR and PCAARRD and implemented by the Council’s partners in the regions. The said projects are on horticulture, livestock production, climate change, impact assessment, area-wide management approaches for mango fruitflies, and forest and landscape restoration. Also to be implemented is the project on land management of diverse rubber-based systems in Southern Philippines.
PCAARRD Deputy Executive Director for Administration, Resource Management and Support Services (DED-ARMSS) Dr. Melvin B. Carlos said he is positive that the bilateral ties of Australia and the Philippines will be further strengthened. He also expressed appreciation, in behalf of the organization, for the short but meaningful visit of Ambassador Robinson.
The Ambassador was joined by his wife Mrs. Rhonda Robinson; Ms. Sophie McPhate, Third Secretary and Mr. Rollie Dela Cruz, Program Officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)-Economic Section; Ms. Mariel Eduarte, Media and Public Affairs Manager and Ms. Juli Cardillo, Public Affairs Officer, of the Australian Embassy; and Ms. Mai Alagcan, Country Manager, and Ms. Mara Faylon, Assistant Country Manager, of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)-Philippines.
Team leaders and project members of the ACIAR-PCAARRD project on forest land resources were also present. These include Prof. John Herbohn, Project Leader and Director of the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre at the University of Sunshine Coast; Dr. Nestor Gregorio, Research Fellow also from the same Centre of the said University; and Dr. Arturo Pasa, Philippine Project Coordinator and Professor at the Visayas State University (VSU). (MegaManila Science Journalists)