For the first time, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has entered into a formal agreement with the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD) to cooperate on programs, projects, and activities in education, training, and research.
Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, and Dr. Fadjry Djufry, IAARD Director-General, signed a five-year memorandum of understanding between their institutions in a virtual ceremony held on 15 April 2021. Mr. Joselito G. Florendo, SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration, and Dr. Ir. Haris Syahbuddin, Executive Secretary of IAARD Secretariat, also signed the agreement as witnesses.
An agency under the Ministry of Agriculture, IAARD has 11 research centers and institutes that “manage research and development on food crops, horticulture, estate crops, livestock, veterinary, soil and agro-climate, agro-socio economics, machinery development, postharvest, biotechnology, and agricultural assessment.” Directors of three IAARD research centers were present, while six other centers were also represented during the MOU signing ceremony.
According to IAARD, “this MOU is part of open innovation and also Research Innovative Collaborative Development, which is new program that IAARD strategic program continued from pandemic for the next five years.”
In his message, Dr. Fadjry said a regional institution like SEARCA whose flagship program is agri-innovation “will very much challenge IAARD experience in the regional scope.”
Dr. Gregorio affirmed that SEARCA focuses its efforts on accelerating transformation through agricultural innovation (ATTAIN) from 2020 to 2025. He pointed out that SEARCA’s core program on Emerging Innovation for Growth (EIG) led by Dr. Rico C. Ancog is very much aligned with the thrust of IAARD.
Under the overall aim of improving the food systems in key agricultural areas in Indonesia, the agreement between SEARCA and IAARD will focus on an integrative intervention related to food losses and livestock management.
At the current rate, massive food waste problem has been noted in Indonesia that requires more integrated technological innovations. Hence, SEARCA and IAARD will explore assessing how to effectively improve efficiency across the food supply chains of key agricultural commodities in Indonesia.
“Specifically, technology transfer initiatives will be jointly rolled out covering both the food production and consumption side. In the long run, this is expected to support Indonesia’s vision of becoming a major food basket of the world by 2045,” Dr. Ancog said.
Noting the importance of livestock sector in the agriculture sector of Indonesia, Dr. Ancog said SEARCA and IAARRD will also continue discussing a livestock management program that is guided by the One Health framework. This is in light of the growing concerns related to zoonoses and other emerging infectious diseases in Indonesia that will significantly threaten the industry’s competitiveness. On the other hand, he pointed out that the implementation of One Health initiatives in relation to agriculture systems in Indonesia is a welcome development to contribute to increasing capacities on disease surveillance and management both of the animal and wildlife professionals in Indonesia.
Moreover, Dr. Gregorio said SEARCA’s mission is to “showcase agri-innovations, sustaining best practices, emerging agribusiness models, and smart disruptive solutions to confront future challenges in agriculture and rural development.”
He added that SEARCA is one with IAARD “in improving the quality of agricultural research resources as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of their uses and in developing national and international networks to master science and technologies and improve the role of IAARD in agricultural development.”
Among the agreed joint undertakings of IAARD and SEARCA under the MOU are to develop collaborative research projects within their priority areas as well as develop short courses and international seminars for IAARD staff.
Dr. Gregorio is thus optimistic that through its collaboration with IAARD, Philippines-based SEARCA will be able to reach various stakeholders in Indonesia.
The Directors of IAARD centers in attendance during the ceremonial signing were Dr. Ir. Priatna Sasmita of the Indonesian Center for Food Crops Research and Development (ICFORD), Dr. Agus Sutanto of the Indonesian Center for Animal Research and Development (ICARD), Dr. Ir. Ferry Fahrudin Munier of the Indonesian Center for Agricultural Technology Assessment and Development (ICATAD), and Dr. Indi Dharmayanti of the Indonesian Center for Veterinary Research. Mrs. Erlita Adriani, Deputy Director for Collaboration of IAARD Secretariat; Dr. Bess Tiesnamurti, ICARD Senior Researcher; and representatives from four other research centers were also present.