PILI, Camarines Sur ---The province of Camarines Sur, ranked as the 4th top rice producer in the Philippines in 2018 and is now becoming known for its expanding Cacao Production, was among the chosen venues in Southeast Asia for this year’s summer course of Master of Science in Food Security and Climate Change (MSFSCC) of the University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC).
On July 16, 2019, 44 students from partner universities under the MSFSCC project and 25 staff from UC arrived at the CamSur WaterSports Complex (CWC,) Cadlan, Pili, where the Provincial Government has sponsored their homestay in the province. Other local hosts are the Department of Agriculture Regional Office V, Office of the Provincial Agriculturists, and Environment, Disaster Management and Emergency Response Office.
With the theme, “Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems in Vulnerable Areas,” the UC-MSFSCC students focused on the assessment of the farm level sustainability of expanding areas of Cacao as a component of farming systems in the province and the dynamics of innovation and transformation of the rice-based farming systems and its future under the rice liberalization law.
From July 16-28, 2019, they conducted ocular surveys, field visits, data gathering, and focus group discussions among farmers in various municipalities of Camarines Sur, namely in Bula, San Fernando, Tigaon, and Pili.
The program is partially-funded by the European Commission’s ERASMUS + Capacity Building for Higher Education and was jointly organized by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Kasetsart University (KU) in Thailand, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Malaysia, Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) and Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), both in Indonesia, and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
Generally, the course provided a place for students to level-off their understanding of the inter-linkages on climate change, food security, and sustainable production. They learned how to assess the diversity of farming systems and rural livelihoods, how to accelerate change, and how changes at practical level correspond with the relevant institutions and policies. Moreover, they also experienced active learning with the international team on holistic assessment of farming systems sustainability.
On the other hand, the Training of Trainers, which is being held simultaneously with the Summer School, aims to discuss the planning and implementation of the MSFSCC core course on Sustainability Assessment in Agricultural Production and Food Processing, including the technical and administrative challenges for instituting this kind of course.
“We would like to extend our warmest gratitude to Gov. Migz and to the Provincial Government for granting us this homestay for our study. CamSur is beautiful, and so are the people and our stay here, too” said Dr. Edna Aguilar of UPLB.