Indonesia Prima, SEARCA eye projects

INDONESIA Prima, a business support and strategic partner for accelerating farmers' entrepreneurial mindsets, and the Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) are exploring joint initiatives on empowering women in agribusiness and advancing digital agriculture.

Diah Yusuf, Indonesia Prima chief executive officer and strategic expert, met with heads and staff of the SEARCA's Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD) and Partnerships Unit, and shared his company's commitment in supporting small agribusiness firms.

She added that they are currently assisting Indonesian durian farmers to access better technology to improve their yield.

"We also help the durian farmers look for local and international market opportunities," Yusuf said.

The Indonesia Prima chief also noted that since they are just starting their venture into agriculture, and it would be beneficial if they could align their goals with SEARCA.

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

Under GRAINS, Reynoso said that the notable completed projects include Project AIRIN, an automated irrigation and nutrient management system for Filipino small-scale farmers; and the Indonesia-based DAKOTA digital platform that strengthens the supply chain and traceability of okra through blockchain technology.

Citing some of the new projects under GRAINS, one of which is a government-led project on big weather data in Thailand, Lichelle Carlos, an EIGD program specialist, said the project has been helping 20 farming communities get early weather advisories.

Carlos said the center is partnering with a startup in Singapore that developed a diagnostic kit that detects the presence of disease in shrimp farm water samples, aiding farmers in preventing major outbreaks.

She said SEARCA works on projects in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia to connect halal product manufacturers to institutional buyers and suggested a potential collaboration on marketing Indonesia Prima's durian harvests.

Carlos also shared with Yusuf the Innovation Olympics 2.0, an agri-hackathon, where young innovators develop 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 competition.

"This 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," Carlos added.

Sharon Malaiba, SEARCA Partnerships unit head, also informed Yusuf of the center's initiative on carbon farming and youth engagement in agriculture.