BANGKOK: The Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance and Thailand's leading agricultural institute, Kasetsart University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on “Projects to Promote Sustainable Agriculture and Exchange Information for Capacity Building in the Asia Pacific Region Seed Sector”.
Top: KU’s Dr. Chongrak and APSA’s Khun Wichai signed the MoU; bottom: APSA Executive Director Dr May discussed collaboration with KU’s Dr Chongrak during a visit earlier this year.
The signing ceremony was initially scheduled 18 March; however, the university, where APSA's Bangkok offices are located, closed 19 March in compliance with Covid-19 containment measures ordered by the Royal Thai Government, which also obliged the APSA Secretariat to close and instruct its staff to work from home until further notice.
Meanwhile, however, public-private partnerships remain necessary as ever to food security, developing farmer livelihoods and agriculture generally -- hence APSA and KU’s sustained commitment to move forward with the MoU, which was signed remotely by representatives of the organizations early in April.
It succeeds a similar document signed in 2017 with the Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA's previous entity name). Although the earlier agreement, like the present one, was extendable merely by an exchange of letters between the two parties, APSA's name change and new Singapore registration required creation of a new MoU to take into account the changed status.
A physical meeting to discuss collaboration in 2020 and beyond is planned after current restrictions are eased.
APSA Vice President Wichai Laocharoenpornkul signed the document on behalf of APSA; KU Acting President Dr Chongrak Wachrinrat signed for the university. Signing as witnesses were Kasetsart Acting Assistant to the President, Assist. Prof. Buncha Chinnasri; and APSA Executive Director Dr Kanokwan Chodchoey.
APSA VP Wichai noted that the agreement centers on initiating "collaboration in the form of projects to promote sustainable agriculture and information-exchange for seed-sector capacity-building in the Asia Pacific region.
" "Forming partnerships among like-minded organizations," he said, "is precisely what the last, perhaps most important, Sustainable Development Goal – SDG number 17 of the United Nations – represents."
He added that, while APSA has collaborated with Kasetsart University in the past, this MoU formalizes their mutual intent "to bridge the needs of industry and academia." He called promoting sustainable agriculture and support the "the essence of the MoU", averring that it laid "a strong foundation for further collaboration through joint projects."
Kasetsart's Dr. Chongrak said, “I am confident that this MOU will expand the subject areas of focus and provide more educational opportunities that will benefit our faculty and students. Moreover, I am certain that our strong and healthy partnerships will enable us to generate more and more research, innovation, and achievements that will contribute to the well-being of the wider public sector.”
Kasetsart and APSA have collaborated on a number of events, including the 2nd Asian Solanaceous Round Table in February 2017 and the inaugural Asian Cucurbits Round Table conference in July, 2018. Both were held on the university’s Bangkhen Campus, with field demonstrations at KU’s Kamphaeng Saen campus.
The MoU Preamble notes that both organizations agree collaboration is beneficial; both have established relevant links throughout the world, wish to expand their knowledge base and "develop mutually beneficial...cooperation and exchange."
Article II expresses the MoU's purpose in further strengthening "public and private cooperation" by organizing seed-related "conferences, workshops and training programs." Kasetsart University students and lecturers are afforded opportunity to participate in APSA's internship program, as well as annual events such as the Asian Solanaceous Round Table, the Asian Cucurbits Round Table and the Asian Seed Congress.
Joint promotion of "capacity building and technology transfer activities...including research and innovation" are cited, as is "exchange of information" via the two organizations' communication channels, specifically, e-magazines, social media and printed matter.
Subsequent agreements will be negotiated on an ad hoc basis to cover funding burdens, responsibilities and intellectual property right ownership for individual projects. Each party "shall bear its own cost and expenses...unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Parties." The MoU does not "oblige the Parties to enter into any Project agreement." But when they do, they agree to provide staff support -- subject to available funding, institutional services and materials -- and to "exchange information and data...on mutually agreed terms."
Apropos of intellectual property rights: Article VI, paragraph i notes that, "Both parties jointly reserve any or all Intellectual Property Rights, without limitation discovered or produced as a result of the cooperation related to this MoU." Paragraph iii, meanwhile, mandates that, "No information or invention developed as a result of this collaboration will be protected through any form of statutory or non-statutory intellectual property right mechanism." Results of the two organizations' partnership will be made available "through the most appropriate" channels.
The three-year agreement took effect upon signing.