Growing Indonesia's agriculture sector through promoting competitiveness

Participants from the Australia Awards in Indonesia Agriculture Policy – Promoting Competitiveness Short Term Award recently spent two weeks in Australia attending an intensive training program focusing on strengthening the Indonesian agriculture sector.

The Short Term Award was delivered by The University of Queensland’s (UQ) International Development unit together with expertise from UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences and UQ Business School.

97 per cent of Indonesia’s farmers operate smallholder family farms, with one-fifth of these family farmers living below the poverty line and on-farm activities only contributing 49 per cent of family income (FAO 2015). Creating and growing a competitive agricultural sector will be essential to enabling these farmers to increase production and value generated by their farms. This will, in turn, increase Indonesia’s food security, strengthen the economy, and will also lead to improved socio-economic outcomes for the farmers and their communities.

Australia Awards participants gathered as one group standing in front of a flame red tree on the grounds of the Great Court, St Lucia UQ
Short Term Award participants with Course Leader Dr Malcolm Wegener, Course Co-Leader Dr Gunnar Kirchhof and the International Development team.

This Short Term Award addresses this issue by focusing on creating a policy environment that encourages private sector engagement and improves competitiveness in the agriculture sector. The Short Term Award was designed in collaboration with the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) and the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Promoting Rural Incomes through Support for Markets in Agriculture (PRISMA) stakeholders.

During the Short Term Award, 22 participants from senior-level positions in agriculture policy planning and trade had the opportunity to compare and explore the Australian agriculture sector. Participants were given presentations from leading experts in the field, visited key government agencies, attended networking events and had hands-on experiences to explore Australian value chains in Brisbane and Canberra.

A key component of the Short Term Award is the development and implementation of Award Projects. Participants are required to work with the course leaders and delivery team throughout the Pre-Course Workshop in Indonesia and the course in Australia to design and implement a project that will introduce key learnings from the course into their workplaces. Participants will continue to liaise with the delivery team after returning to Indonesia to receive ongoing guidance and mentoring for their Award Project implementation. They will present the outcomes of their Award Project at the post-course workshop in Indonesia in March 2020.

Participant testimonials

Sonya Monica
Senior Business Development Manager (Agribusiness sector), Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Australian Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia

I have met and developed new connections with professors and facilitators of the course, fellow participants, and presenters in Australia and Indonesia. The course enabled me to look at the complexity of the Agricultural sector from a different perspective and to see the difference of a developed versus a developing country such as Australia and Indonesia. I will apply what I have learned during the course into the agriculture policy setting to promote competitiveness which will enhance bilateral trade between Australian and Indonesia on agricultural commodities and products.

Muhammad Burmansyah
Manager Partnership, PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur

The course helped me to increase my understanding of Australia’s public and private sector engagement in improving competitiveness and self-sufficiency in key agricultural sectors, namely horticulture, hydroponic, wheat grain, maize and also live cattle. We have learnt how to benchmark policy and institutional arrangement to promote agriculture market competitiveness, private investment and productivity improvement. In this course, we were able to compare Australian and international learnings from reforms to increase the level of competition, market systems development and business strengthening services in the agriculture sector.

The course teaches us how Australian value chain analysis for agriculture commodity products and approaches to stimulating local demand influence consumption. We also had the chance to explore policies targeted to neutron-sensitive and climate-smart agriculture.

With this course, we can plan and implement projects in our home country or workplace to strengthen knowledge and skills. I can also establish the networks needed to develop a work plan, which identifies key issues and challenging factors to be undertaken for my organisation. We can take note on how specific action that must be taken in order to achieve my work objectives and all anticipate for possible risks.

Indonesia, Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Indonesia, Post-harvest Technology Researcher

There are two topics in this course that stand out to me. Firstly, the topic of policy cycle was new knowledge to me. It gives me insight on what is best practice to produce evidence-based policymaking. Secondly, value chain analysis gives me a tool on how to examine which chain is not competitive and how to make the agriculture industry more efficient and competitive.

The course has impacted my perception of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. We should not compete which each other, but we should collaborate based on mutual interest. My networking also expanded and it is nice to know many people with different backgrounds and expertise. I can apply what I learn from this course by implementing it on my project back home. I will conduct my project in the mind-set of value chain analysis and the project result should influence policymaking.

Dr Setia Sari Girsang
Researcher, Head of Land Resources Group in AIAT North Sumatera

The short-term Australia Award in Indonesia is very valuable because it is balanced between technical course content, gender equity, links with government and the private sector and experiencing Australian culture. We had opportunities to learn and discuss directly with senior professors, the Queensland and Australian Government, the private sector and farmers in Brisbane, Sydney, and Canberra. The course changed my perspective on competitiveness and to not only focus on increasing production but on quality, availability, and market. This course will enable me to collaborate between Indonesia research with ACIAR and UQ researchers. I will also be able to help farmers, especially horticulture and coffee plantations that have links with Australia and other markets.

This Short Term Award is funded by the Australian Government through the Australia Awards program. Australia Awards are prestigious international scholarships and short courses offering the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia.

UQ International Development

We are one of the leading university development groups in the Asia-Pacific region. Our unit provides development expertise and program management leadership to help build the capacity of people and organisations around the world to achieve their development goals.

Last updated:
3 November 2020