As a strategy to monitor and assess the partnership, which has been active for more than 37 years, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) conducted its 2nd Partnership Health Check virtually on January 12, 2021.
This initiative started in 2019 as a monitoring and evaluation tool for the ACIAR-PCAARRD Partnering Arrangement that was signed in December 2018.
Dr. Peter Horne, General Manager for Country Programs; Ms. Mai Alagcan, Country Manager-Philippines; Ms. Mara Faylon, Assistant Country Manager; and Ms. Jaclyn Grey, Communication Officer, represented ACIAR. On the other hand, Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, Executive Director; Dr. Juanito T. Batalon, OIC-Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development (R&D); Dr. Melvin B. Carlos, Deputy Executive Director for Administration, Resource Management, and Support Services (ARMSS); Dr. Lilian G. Bondoc, Director of the Policy Coordination and Monitoring Division (PCMD); and Ms. Maria Theresa T. Bautista, Supervising Science Research Specialist of PCMD; represented DOST-PCAARRD.
The two agencies reflected on the challenges and successes of the partnership in the past year as well as opportunities for collaboration in 2021. PCAARRD and ACIAR both agreed that they will consider the partnership successful when both organizations contribute to the achievement of partnership goals and objectives; partnership activities and initiatives are co-developed/-implemented/-funded; and there is improved alignment and complementation of research and capacity building strengths and network to maximize utilization of research outputs, and promote science in policy work.
As discussed during the Health Check, the COVID-19 pandemic did not hinder both agencies in designing and implementing research projects and capability building activities as well as promoting R&D results to advance agricultural competitiveness.
In 2020, six new projects were supported and implemented and seven are in the pipeline for joint implementation this 2021. PCAARRD and ACIAR have jointly implemented the following projects/activities: 1) Agribusiness Master Class; 2) Dairy Scoping Study;
3) African Swine Fever Study; 4) COVID-19 and food systems in the Philippines;
5) Developing a Regional African Swine Fever Socioeconomic and Livelihood Impact Analysis Fund; and 6) Monitoring Agricultural Research Investments, Capacity and Impact in South East Asia and the Pacific.
On capacity building, Filipino experts/researches were supported by ACIAR through the John Allwright Fellowship. Moreover, one among the eight Filipina Meryl Williams Fellows is a PCAARRD staff member. Fellows will be working on a PCAARRD-ACIAR project. Furthermore, all the 30 participants of the Agribusiness Master Class became ACIAR Alumni, which means that they will be able to access more learning opportunities being offered by ACIAR. PCAARRD and ACIAR are currently identifying other capacity building activities to offer to Filipino researchers.
Priorities for 2021 were also identified such as: climate change, human nutrition, coconut, livestock, and marine and aquatic resources. Both agencies committed to fast track the needed arrangements on administrative, financial, and technical aspects of the pipeline projects and activities.
With the shared objective to support and enhance efforts in promoting the partnership to stakeholders in the Philippines and Australia, PCAARRD and ACIAR also committed to develop communication activities, including joint social media content, impact stories, opinion editorials, blogs, policy briefs, and branding guidelines.
The ACIAR-PCAARRD partnership has remained robust and active and is poised to grow despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Both PCAARRD and ACIAR expressed excitement to proudly share and promote their longstanding partnership in the upcoming 75th Anniversary of the Philippines-Australia Bilateral Relations, PCAARRD’s 50th anniversary, and ACIAR’s 40th Anniversary, which will happen this 2021 and in 2022.
PCAAARD and ACIAR also committed to continue working together and exploring innovative ways to deliver agricultural research for development in the Philippines and Australia in more years to come.