Thousands of Iskolar ng Bayan and their loved ones converged at the DL Umali Freedom Park of the University of the Philippines Los Baños for the UPLB’s 47th Commencement Exercises on the afternoon of June 22, 2019. The event marked the University’s conferment of degrees to its 2,419 graduates for this year and the conferment of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on Dr. Simon N. Groot.
Groot, recipient of the 2019 World Food Prize award and the honorary chairman and founder of the East-West Seed Group, was recognized by UP for his outstanding contributions to Philippine agriculture and for helping improve the income of farmers through the development of high quality vegetables using modern plant technologies.
In his commencement speech, Groot told the graduates, “This country and many others in tropical Asia and Africa need you.” He said that nation building, like agricultural development, “needs a variety of skills leading to combining ability.” He explained that this is possible through “recombining several highly desirable characteristics,” an important process “not only in plants but also in people, organizations, and cultures.” He also talked about the importance of promoting nutritious diets and an interest in amateur vegetable farming, especially for children.
By drawing lessons from his decades-long experience in developing vegetable farming, helping small farming communities, and promoting vegetable nutrition, Groot encouraged the graduates to “combine the right kinds of knowledge about crops and markets”, learn by doing, have passion for farmers, and become innovators.
Groot was born in The Netherlands, took up business economics, and became a pioneer in the seed industry. (For more information on the World Food Prize and Dr. Groot, please access https://www.worldfoodprize.org/en/laureates/2019_groot/).
UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, members of the UP Board of Regents, and UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., officiated at the ceremonies.
UPLB, renowned for its leadership in the fields of agriculture, forestry, and allied academic programs, produced one summa cum laude, 22 magna cum laude, and 201 cum laude graduates this year. At the ceremonies, 2,048 received their Bachelor’s degree; 285, their Master’s degree; 73, their doctorate; and, 13, their Certificate in Forestry. The traditional lightning rally staged by graduating activists at the end of the program also highlighted issues of national significance, such as political repression and the West Philippine Sea.