PAIR seaweed researchers meet Indonesian government ministries
The lead researchers for the Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) seaweed project have presented their findings to senior officials in three Indonesian government departments.
The Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) research team has finished collecting evidence about the industry and has been in Jakarta to discuss their work and how it can help policymakers create a sustainable seaweed industry.
The research team’s senior leads met with Musdhalifah Machmud, Deputy II for food and agribusiness in the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs.
Scott Waldron from the University of Queensland and Nunung Nuryartono from Institut Teknologi Bandung outlined that the team had collected extensive price information which shows market prices follow a similar trend, however farmers would benefit from more information about prices and seaweed grades when negotiating with buyers.
This price information was accessed thanks to a collaboration with industry organisation group Jasuda.
According to Dr Musdhalifah the research findings will be used to inform a new national seaweed roadmap. It is currently being prepared through a letter to the presidential office.
“We can use the information from this study as part of our report to the minister. We want to talk about the high level of impact of seaweed in Indonesia, and the report to the minister needs to be based on the data,” she said.
“We need more people to be interested in seaweed. We need more young experts to have their vision included, including a contribution to the roadmap.”
The next visit was to the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries where the Director General for aquaculture TB Haeru Rahayu outlined the vision to improve four marine commodities including seaweed.
Dr Rahayu stressed the importance of ‘grounded’ research that could be used in a practical way by farmers.
“We on behalf of the government really appreciate your research into seaweed. We hope the program can be continued, and we want to talk about our agenda so we can combine our priorities.”
According to Dr Rahayu the plan is to significantly increase production next year.
“We have met stakeholders to make this a reality. There is training for farmers to apply good aquaculture practices to their farms. It is not so easy but we have to start otherwise we cannot alleviate poverty.”
Research co-lead A/Prof. Waldron asked how the government could support production by providing seedstock to farmers which can be expensive or difficult to obtain.
The director general outlined the seaweed gardens program which provides good quality seedstock but is facing a challenge in distribution due to a lack of funds.
“Our policy for next year is to have 256 seaweed gardens in all of indonesia. We will focus on the priority areas of Maluku, Sulawesi and Bali,” said Dr Rahayu.
The meeting also discussed the value of research work by programs such as PAIR due to a change in the Indonesian government’s administration of research and development.
The seaweed research leaders then moved to the office of the Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) to introduce the work of PAIR.
Executive director Eugene Sebastian explained how the PAIR research model could be adopted in other provinces.
“We would like to work with BAPPENAS and develop ideas on how to replicate the PAIR model. It’s a model of bringing universities together and to make effective change,” he said.
The Director of Food and Agriculture, Anang Noegroho Setyo Moeljono said that one area of focus for him was in food and nutrition, and how to develop agri systems to meet the needs of a huge population.
The subject of food transformation systems was raised, and Professor Nuryartono said this could be a part of the Australia-Indonesia Centre activities in the next phase, while also having a strong link to other areas of PAIR research.
“This is connected to youth and development, and transport. Youth and development are very important to the next generation of agricultural development, as young people need to be healthy for development. All of these issues are interconnected,” he said.
BAPPENAS is responsible for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and therefore has a strong interest in food and health outcomes.
Mr Moeljono said he was looking forward to working with the AIC on establishing the best architecture for next steps in sustainable food production.
Feature image: AIC