MSU-Maguindanao Explores Global Agricultural Technology at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia

#MSUMagAt50 | In a move towards fostering agricultural innovation and sustainability, Mindanao State University-Maguindanao has been granted support by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD). The university has undertaken a Global Technology Information Search (GTIS)/benchmarking activity at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Australia. The initiative is funded by the PCAARRD Foreign Travel Fund (PFTF) and attended by Dr. Raquel D. Santiago-Arenas, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension and Ms. Analiza C. Diaz, the Science Research Specialist of the Technology Transfer and Promotion Division of PCAARRD. The activity took place from December 10-17, 2023.

The global technology information search and benchmarking activity, held at the University of Southern Queensland’s Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems in Toowoomba, Australia, aimed to study the best practices employed by USQ CSAS in managing biophysical resources with precision, encompassing social, environmental, and political considerations. This learning process aimed to inform and refine existing practices in the Philippines. In addition, the activity sought to identify existing gaps and challenges within the sector’s technologies, processes, and practices. Henceforth, the benchmarking fostered collaboration between the Philippines and USQ CSAS, opening doors for future knowledge exchange and joint initiatives. As part of this collaboration, the Philippines gained insights from USQ CSAS on establishing a similar agrotechnology center for agriculture, fisheries, and food systems.

The Philippines, where agriculture is a vital sector supporting millions, faces challenges like limited resource access, inefficient use, and inadequate infrastructure, leading to low productivity and profitability. Recognizing Australia’s reputation for innovative and sustainable agricultural practices, MSU-Maguindanao saw USQ CSAS as a prime source of knowledge and inspiration. The University of Southern Queensland, particularly its Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (CSAS), engages in research across various disciplines and operates research centers and facilities dedicated to advancing knowledge and contributing to industry and community development. CSAS focuses on spatial diagnosis, ecosystem services, soil-plant-water dynamics, agronomy, and more, aligning with the goals of sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Santiago-Arenas toured with the assistance of the host and their contact person, Dr. Armando A. Apan, Professor of Geographic Systems at the School of Surveying and Built Environment, University of Southern Queensland. She was able to visit Centre for Applied Climate Science, Center for Crop Health, Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment (ILSE) Research Facilities, Center for Agricultural Engineering, and Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems. Her tour solidified these learnings and laid the foundation for future collaboration. This initiative stands as a testament to MSU-Maguindanao’s commitment to progress and their determination to transform the agricultural landscape.