SEARCA and Indonesia Prima explore opportunities for women in agribusiness and digital agriculture

  • By Zara Mae Estareja
  • 12 December 2023

Ms. Diah Yusuf, chief executive officer and strategic expert of Indonesia Prima, visited the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on 4 December 2023. She was received by the heads and staff of the Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD) and Partnerships Unit. The meeting focused on potential joint initiatives on empowering women in agribusiness and advancing digital agriculture.

Indonesia Prima is a business support and strategic partner for accelerating farmers' entrepreneurial mindsets, particularly women farmers.

SEARCA and Indonesia Prima explore opportunities for women in agribusiness and digital agriculture

During the meeting, Ms. Yusuf was given an overview of SEARCA's mandate and offerings. In turn, she shared Indonesia Prima's commitment to support small agribusinesses. She said they are currently assisting durian farmers to access better technology to improve their yield and capacitate them on financial management. Moreover, they also help the durian farmers look for local and international market opportunities.

"I like SEARCA's direction, and since we are just starting our venture into agriculture, it would be beneficial if we could align our goals with yours," Ms. Yusuf remarked. She believed SEARCA could assist Indonesia Prima through capacity-building initiatives for women agripreneurs and digitalization.

Atty. Eric Reynoso, program head of the SEARCA-EIGD, introduced the Grants for Research towards Agricultural Innovative Solutions (GRAINS). GRAINS provides starter funds to researchers, scientists, inventors, and agripreneurs to scale up their technology or innovation model.

He highlighted notable completed projects under GRAINS, including Project AIRIN, an automated irrigation and nutrient management system for Filipino small-scale farmers, and the Indonesia-based DAKOTA digital platform, which strengthens the supply chain and traceability of okra through blockchain technology.

Meanwhile, Ms. Lichelle Carlos, an EIGD program specialist, cited some of the new projects under GRAINS, one of which is a government-led project on big weather data in Thailand, helping 20 farming communities get early weather advisories. In Singapore, the Center is partnering with a startup that developed a diagnostic kit that detects the presence of disease in shrimp farm water samples, aiding the farmers in preventing major outbreaks. Moreover, in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, SEARCA works on projects to connect halal product manufacturers to institutional buyers. Ms. Carlos suggested a potential collaboration on marketing Indonesia Prima's durian harvests.

When asked about SEARCA's hackathon events, Ms. Carlos discussed with Ms. Yusuf the Innovation Olympics 2.0, an agri hackathon, wherein young innovators developed innovative solutions to the challenges faced by urban and rural smallholder vegetable farmers. She also talked about the Food is Life Exemplified Promoting Planetary Health Diet (FLEx PHD) competition, which fostered the development of mobile applications guiding consumers in making informed food choices based on their nutritional needs, the food's health benefits and its production's impact on farmer income and the environment.

Ms. Sharon Malaiba, unit head for Partnerships, informed Ms. Yusuf of the Center's initiative on carbon farming and youth engagement in agriculture.

Before the meeting ended, Ms. Yusuf invited SEARCA to collaborate on the conference on Asia Smart Farming and Food Security in 2024.

SEARCA and Indonesia Prima planned to draft a memorandum of understanding.