An NBW Policy Forum on Strengthening Biotechnology Research and Development in Agriculture

Food security robustness is a country’s ability to withstand any perturbations to its food security system by having a balanced capacity to make food available; ensure that production is sustainable; and provide the necessary infrastructure and policies to support domestic production, promote trade and manage food demand and affordability (Teng and Morales, 2013). The problem of hunger and malnutrition is pervasive worldwide, especially in developing countries where communities are highly vulnerable to risks. This problem is likely to worsen dramatically as the world is facing abrupt changes in demographics, dietary patterns, agriculture sector performance, environmental degradation and adverse effects of climate change.

Under AFMA 1997[1], agricultural biotechnology is recognized as one of the means to transform the agriculture and fisheries sectors from being resource-based to becoming technology-based; thereby, modernizing them in pursuit of food security amidst transitory and chronic threats in agricultural production.  Agricultural biotechnology has the potential to help grow more food with less water, less land, less labour, less waste and under challenges of more variable weather. The potential of this technology can be realized with having a strong R&D pillar built around a robust and creative scientific community that is able to generate novel and beneficial technologies.

The Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Program Office will hold a whole day forum to tackle critical policy issues and institutional challenges that impact the Philippines’ capacity to engage in R&D and develop innovative biotechnologies for beneficial application in agriculture and food security concerns. The forum aims to increase awareness and recognition among decision- and policy-makers of the policy and institutional challenges that affect biotechnology research and development capacity for agricultural productivity enhancement. It also hopes to encourage more focused policy discussions on the issues and challenges, stimulate formulation and/or amendment of policies crucial to the strengthening of R&D in the Philippines, and foster Filipino ingenuity in agricultural biotechnology. Moreover, it aims to encourage conduct of in-depth review or further studies on the key issues and challenges with the end view of providing some policy recommendations to address them.

Forum resource speakers include Mr. James Paul Esguerra (Center for Emerging Technologies and Innovations of the Philippines), Dr. Nasir Ahmad Saeed (National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Pakistan), Mr. Simeon Cuyson (Croplife Philippines), Acad. Evelyn Mae Mendoza (National Academy of Science and Technology), Dr. Saturnina Halos (Biotechnology Advisory Team, Department of Agriculture), Ms. Ma. Antonia Odelia Arroyo (Hybridigm Consulting, Inc. and Asia Institute of Management), Engr. Renato dela Cruz (Agricultural Training Institute), and Dr. Mariechel Navarro (International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications).

The Forum will be held on November 27, 2014, 8:30am-5:00pm, at the CHED Auditorium, Diliman, Quezon City. Filipino scientists, researchers, government officials, and public policy students and practitioners are expected to participate in the activity.