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Updates from our Expert Group working with the Higher Education for Sustainable Agriculture in Southeast Asia

The Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI)  Expert Group on Higher Education for Sustainable Agriculture (HESA) in Southeast Asia has recently been very active with various national meetings in the Philippines (22-23 July), Thailand (27-28 July) and Lao PDR (4 August).  These activities were possible with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).  All meetings included some dialogue among government officials, scholars, international agency representatives and NGOs about higher education for sustainable agriculture (HESA) and food security in each country.  Each event was well represented by senior officials and experts from different institutions nation-wide, many with extensive experience in and knowledge about agricultural education.   

Aside from each meeting’s value as a forum for dialogue about important, sometimes contentious issues in higher agricultural education, their primary objective (which included a “write-shop”) focused on one main output.  The principal goal was to produce a draft outline for a national HESA Policy Brief which could later be elaborated and published, then used in further dialogue with government officials and agencies to help shape and guide national agricultural education policy.  Each drafting process was unique but one common interest expressed in each meeting was a desire for follow-up to “operationalize” Policy Recommendations as part of future work of the HESA Expert Groups in each country.

The next event, which will present the results of this work from each of the three countries in follow-up, will be hosted by Chulalongkorn University School of Agricultural Resources (CUSAR) in Bangkok August 18th as part of a pre-conference workshop associated with a related conference on “Social and Sustainability Sciences in the ASEAN Community” 19-21 August 2015.  That event will also include HESA experts from the region in food and agriculture education discussions.  That conference is being be sponsored by Chulalongkorn University in partnership with the ASEAN University Network (AUN), the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT); and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Bangkok, Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Social and Human Sciences Unit.

The National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) hosted the meeting (4 August) in Lao PDR at NAFRI’s national headquarters next to the National University of Laos (NUOL) campus in Dondok on the outskirts of Vientiane.  The University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) collaborated with UP Diliman in Quezon City, Manila (22-23 July) to host a national event.  A more detailed report from the UP write-shop is available here (Download the report). Extensive reports and documents from the first Thai national meetings (19-20 March) are already online.