Filipino expat and agriculture scientist Dr. Leocadio S. Sebastian received the highest honor from the government of Vietnam for his contribution to the country’s rice production.
Dr. Sebastian was awarded the prestigious “Medal for Contribution to the Cause of Agriculture and Rural Development” from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam (MARD), the highest possible honor from the ministry given to someone who has made a significant contribution to agriculture and rural development of the country.
The agriculture expert from the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) in Laguna is currently the regional program leader of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in Southeast Asia.
Through the CCAFS program, Dr. Sebastian has been a staunch advocate of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in Vietnam by leading various research for development (R4D) activities to promote locally-adaptive CSA technologies and practices to help farmers cope with climate change.
One of the major contributions of CCAFS work in Vietnam that was acknowledged was the application of climate-smart mapping and adaptation planning (CS-MAP) by the Department of Crop Production, which has helped farmers avoid the negative effects of El Niño, particularly salinity intrusion, in rice production. CS-MAP helped in avoiding the recurrence of major rice production loss, which happened in 2016 (more than 200,000 hectares affected by salinity intrusion and more than one million tons of rice loss).
He was also recognized for guiding CCAFS in providing inputs to Vietnam’s agriculture-related submissions to UNFCC, policies, and programs. Dr. Sebastian also served as the country representative to Vietnam of the International Rice Research Institute (2013-2017).
The awarding ceremony was chaired by the Vice Minister Le Quoc Doanh and attended by Dr. Cao Duc Phat, former Minister (2006-2017) of MARD and current member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Dr. Bui Ba Bong, former MARD Deputy Minister (2001-2013), Consul General Paul Vincent Uy, Chargé d’affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Hanoi, and the director generals of key departments of MARD. The participants of the CCAFS Annual Regional Program Meeting from Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Indonesia also attended the awarding ceremony held in Pullman Hanoi Hotel in November 2019.
A multi-awarded plant breeder and research administrator, Leo Sebastian integrates the whole spectrum of research, development, and extension (RD&E) and mobilizing governmental, inter-governmental and international networking and collaboration for greater impact.
Prior to joining CCAFS, he was Regional Director for Asia Pacific Region at Bioversity International. He was also Executive Director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) where he strengthened and mobilized the national rice R&D network, enabling the Philippines to increase rice productivity and sustain PhilRice’s stature as a premier knowledge-generating institution in Southeast Asia.
His expertise in R&D management is internationally recognized through his involvement in various international research networks, consortia, and review panels organized by the World Bank, FAO, GCDT, Rockefeller Foundation, CGIAR, ICRISAT, and IRRI.
Sebastian was conferred with prestigious awards in the Philippines like the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in 2001, Outstanding Young Scientist in Plant Breeding, Pantas (Sage) Award for Research Management and JICA Presidential Award.
Leo Sebastian earned his doctorate degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and his BS and MS degrees from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
UP Los Banos registered a 100% passing rate at the recent agriculturist board exam.
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