'You haven't done much!' Dar dares HEIs to take on PH agriculture's pressing issues

Published August 11, 2021, 2:02 PM

by Betheena Unite

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar once again threw down the gauntlet in the interest of improving the country’s agriculture sector.

Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar (Photo courtesy of the DA)

After challenging future agriculturists and scientists last July to turn their research papers into real technologies, Dar this time called on higher education institutions (HEIs) to come up with action plans that would benefit Filipinos, especially those whose lives depend on agriculture.

“HEIs should proactively engage in creating a quality workforce, driving innovation, increasing employability, upskilling existing workforces, collaborating between education and business, and feeding the country into a knowledge-based economy,” Dar said during a virtual forum titled “Viewpoints of the Forerunners: Future of Agriculture and Food Systems” conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

The agriculture chief challenged HEIs by saying, “If we have not made much impact on the municipality or province where we are hosted, particularly on your research and development, and extension services, then I would say that you have not done much!”

He urged the UPLB and other HEIs to come forward in solving pressing issues affecting the agriculture sector, such as the African Swine Fever (ASF) and pest infestations; as well as contribute to the areas of digitalization, urban agriculture, and creating climate change innovations.

He added that while UPLB is considered as one of the top Philippine universities in terms of research productivity in science, engineering, and health, as reported by the Institutes for Research, Innovation and Scholarship (IRIS), it should step up in driving agricultural innovation systems in rural areas.

“I believe that you would always like to go farther where we are today — by means of reinventing and strengthening your existing curricular programs, including your science and innovation, and research for development,” Dar said.

“You are among Philippine agriculture’s brightest hope! You should be relevant, not just excellent. Research must not end in publications alone, and innovation must reach and benefit the grassroots,” he added.