The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in partnership with the Regalo ng Kilit Foundation Inc. convened the First International Conference on School-plus-Home Gardens cum Biodiversity Enhancement Enterprise (SHGBEE1) in Coron, Palawan on 8-12 November 2022.

The conference theme is “Restoring Biodiversity, Regenerating Agriculture and Building Businesses”.

SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio said the international conference was organized by SEARCA and Regalo ng Kilit Foundation Inc. as a shared commitment to achieving food and nutrition security, promoting sustainable agriculture, and restoring biodiversity or “BioAgversity.”

“More than 70 participants from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and the United States joined the conference,” Gregorio said.

He said the participants include teachers and researchers from local schools, state universities and colleges, and other higher education institutions; policymakers from local government units and other government agencies; partners from the private sector; and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) both in the Philippines and in other Southeast Asian countries.

“The SHGBEE1 provides a platform for sharing experiences and best practices related to school and home gardens and their contributions to biodiversity enhancement and enterprise development in Southeast Asia,” Gregorio explained.

Four parallel sessions focus on the following thematic areas: Paving the Way for Sustainable School and Home Gardens through Conservation Agriculture for Organic Agriculture or CA4OA; Promoting SHGBEE through experiential K to 12 Lessons; Harmonizing School-plus-Home Gardens Project (S+HGP) with Biodiversity Enhancement, Community Enterprise, and Sustainable Livelihoods; and Fostering an Enabling Environment for SHGBEE through sound policy and NGO and private sector engagements.

Gregorio said the conference also features mobile workshops and will showcase facilities and practices to increase understanding and appreciation of the indispensability of biodiversity.

He added that SHGBEE also draws attention to the need to enhance and conserve biodiversity while sustainably producing food and supporting local tourism as alternative sources of income for households and the community.