PAIR researchers meet with Indonesian Ministry of Marine and Fisheries to discuss seaweed projects in South Sulawesi
On Wednesday the 24th of November, the Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) held a meeting with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia.
It was an opportunity for researchers with the PAIR commodities and program management teams to meet with a key stakeholder, the Ministry’s director general of aquaculture Dr TB Haeru Rahayu. The meeting was held virtually and sought to reinforce the focus and understanding of the research project so that it has the greatest impact and benefit for communities.
The PAIR commodities team has placed extensive focus on researching the potential and logistics of seaweed production in South Sulawesi. This directly aligns with the priorities of Dr TB Haeru Rahayu, who views the sea as “a source of food and the driver of the future economy” and aims to increase Indonesia’s production and distribution of seaweed by 30 percent over the next three to four years. The director general underlined the significance of this research stating that “seaweed has a total potential of $US1.33 trillion per annum” for Indonesia’s economy, further reinforcing that PAIR researchers play a crucial role in achieving the targets of the ministry.
“Researchers can provide human resources with high order thinking skills that are able to solve complex problems, are able to enhance innovation, and also provide digitally literate academics”, said Dr Haeru Rahayu, highlighting the importance of involving quality researchers in projects.
His presentation also highlighted some of the key aspects that the aquaculture directorate is focussed on through Aquaculture Breakthrough Program 2021-2024.
The three main areas of focus are:
- Non tax state revenue.
- Developing aquaculture for export purposes.
- Development for freshwater, brackish water and marine aquaculture.
On achieving these goals, the directorate holds the value of ecology and economy for their blue economy.
Dr Scott Waldron from the University of Queensland presented the focus of the commodities team’s research in South Sulawesi. He agreed that research and investment in seaweed production is a high priority for the Australian and Indonesian governments, and recognised the significance between the ministry’s policies on aquaculture and PAIR’s focus on seaweed.
Dr Waldron also put forward the PAIR team’s comprehensive plan for a value chain analysis of seaweed from production to consumption, demonstrating the detail PAIR researchers have put into developing and improving every area of the supply chain.
“In line with Indonesia’s aquaculture policy, PAIR researchers have created a six part value chain analysis that covers all aspects and relationships of the commodities,” said Dr Waldron.
The PAIR senior fellow also presented on research undertaken in South Sulawesi, which includes mapping seaweed production through satellite images, analysing the prices of seaweed in the domestic market, and developing designs to improve seaweed preparation and marketing. Dr Waldron also introduced Dr Risti Permani who will lead a project on Indonesian seaweed policy.
Dr Permani asked for guidance and support from the ministry regarding a “mapping of key policy areas relating to the Indonesian seaweed industry development”. The three main policies the research will focus on include safe and competitive seaweed processing, and updates to Indonesian taxation and investment policies. She also mentioned the importance of adopting a gendered lens to empower women and improve their quality of life in the region through this industry.
Dr Haeru Rahayu was invited to provide feedback on the research projects. He stressed the importance of involving local communities and governments with the research, as opposed to the central Indonesian government, as this will help ensure relevance and implementation of the best research outcomes. He proposed expanding research in future to include other key areas of growth in Indonesia, including South-east Maluku, Sumba Timur and Papua. He concluded by reiterating his support with the research to the best of his capacity.
The meeting concluded with closing remarks by the Australia-Indonesia Centre’s Dr Nana Saleh and Kevin Evans who thanked the director general for his ongoing support and feedback and “hope[d] that the lessons from South Sulawesi can spread and have an impact on other regions in Indonesia.”