IN the 50th year of "One ASEAN," cooperation among the 10 member countries has never been tighter with the ASEAN Economic Community paving the way for a single market and production base of which agriculture is an important component.
Yet employment and interest in agriculture has been in decline even as it remains the main source of livelihood in the majority of ASEAN Member States with the exception of Brunei Darussalam and Singapore, though both are nonetheless dependent on agriculture for food and commerce.
Seeing that the future of food and agriculture is hinged on attracting the youth to become a new generation and breed of farmers, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture or SEARCA is poised to build an AgriMuseum.
It is an alternative approach to educating the young populace and other publics on the importance of agriculture and its centrality to food security, survival, and overall development of economies in the ASEAN region.
The Southeast Asian AgriMuseum and Learning Center will showcase the evolution and changing face of agriculture, its interconnectedness across landscapes from the mountains to the sea, its shared characteristics and diversity among Southeast Asian countries.
It will also articulate current issues and challenges, game-changers and innovations, and the envisioned futures of agricultural and food systems in the region.
"Seeing the AgriMuseum's value in drawing attention to agriculture as a field of study, a future career, and a lucrative livelihood, it has already gained the support and endorsement of the education ministers of the 10 ASEAN countries plus Timor-Leste," said SEARCA director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr.
Recently Dr. Saguiguit has personally presented the museum's concept in the biennial meeting of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization held in Jakarta, Indonesia July 24-27.
He said it could be counted as SEARCA's contribution to the celebration of ASEAN's first 50 years and to the future of agriculture in Southeast Asia.
The $1.8-million AgriMuseum will rise adjacent to SEARCA's headquarters on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
The education facility will also be a major destination in the planned science ecotourism program of the Los Baños Science Community Foundation, Inc.
SEARCA is a founding member and staunch supporter of the Los Baños Science Community.
The museum is envisaged to benefit not only the youth, but also development practitioners, policy and decision-makers, researchers, and media professionals.
SEARCA also invites all interested stakeholders and parties to partner in establishing this important education facility.