A hand up for Indonesian farmers

Massey University is working in partnership with Indonesian farmers and educators to build a more sustainable and successful agriculture sector.

The East Indonesia Innovative Farm Systems and Capability in Agribusiness Activity (IFSCA) is funded by the New Zealand Government, which has contributed $4.2 million through the New Zealand Aid Programme.

Massey University College of Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Ray Geor attended the New Zealand Indonesia Business forum in Jakarta on July 19. Prime Minister John Key attended and three Massey projects were highlighted, including the East Indonesia Innovative Farm Systems and Capability in Agribusiness Activity.

Working in partnership with the University of Mataram, the programme has been operational for just under six months in the districts of Dompu on the island of Sumbawa, and North Lombok on the island of Lombok. The programme draws on the best of New Zealand’s agricultural expertise to integrate the latest tools and technologies into existing corn, cattle and fresh fruit and vegetable farming systems.

Work already undertaken has created strong inroads to build technical capability and infrastructure, improve productivity and create new business.

Associate Professor Chris Anderson says, "the partnership is focused on building ongoing capability and strengthening educational partnerships that will serve all parties in the long-term.”

“By teaching farmers to future plan, like scheduling cattle feed for the dry season, we’re working together to build better farms and better futures. We take knowledge of environmental science, farming and business to the farmers on the ground, but also to the educators at Mataram, so that the education can continue on the ground and in the classroom.”

“New Zealanders are fortunate to have generations of accumulated knowledge around best practice farming, and sharing that knowledge with other countries can only be good for the prosperity of both,” says Associate Professor Anderson, of Massey’s Institute of Agriculture and Environment.

Since its inception, the programme has focused on building human capability by teaching sustainable farming practice on farms through the University of Mataram. The next six months will see the installation of major infrastructure, with the completion of five cattle units that will be operational by the end of the year. A feasibility study is underway to test viability of a packhouse that can better supply high-quality fresh fruit and vegetables to high-end hotels on Lombok’s tourism coast.

University of Mataram director of international office Professor Taufik Fauzi says, “ Massey is helping us improve our capabilities in agriculture and related sciences. Mataram has the vision to be an internationally competitive research-based university by 2025 and by collaborating with reputable university such as Massey, the university will be more likely to achieve its vision.”

Building relationships

At the forefront of the project is the development of long-term relationships that will lead to economic prosperity and research outputs for both countries.

Associate Professor Anderson says, “a university-led project like this is rare, as we’re effectively conducting the work that consultants would. However, because of the university-to-university relationship there is no limit to what our graduates and researchers may gain and the long-term research outputs that may result. The partnership works because we’re able to use our graduates and experienced researchers to contribute and gain knowledge by working in these communities long-term.”

We’ve developed a new model for agricultural development programmes that could potentially be the model for other ASEAN countries.”

The project is part of larger university effort known as Massey University Worldwide that aims to develop the international education market and expand Massey teaching and research activity internationally in order to secure tertiary education as a major export earner for New Zealand. It works within agriculture, humanities and social sciences, aviation, business, emergency management, environment, health and veterinary medicine.

Projects include work in South Asia to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases from animals to humans, strengthening the national veterinary services and the animal production sectors of Sri Lanka – also funded by New Zealand – and involves experts from across Massey and universities across the world.

The four-year Indonesian agribusiness development project was launched on February 22 at the University of Mataram on the island of Lombok, east of Bali.

Last updated: 04/08/2016

Source: http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle=a-hand-up-for-indonesian-farmers-10-08-2016