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Australia-Indonesia project to build next generation agriculture skills

A partnership between Deakin Business School (DBS) and Indonesia’s Bogor Agricultural University taps into the power of youth.

Empowering young people to address the challenges of 21st century agriculture is the focus of a new initiative between Deakin and one of Indonesia’s leading agricultural institutions, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB University).

The ‘AgIR-Advancing Innovations and Resilience in Agricultural Youth’ project will see DBS and IPB University’s Faculty of Economics and Management (FEM) team up to provide a series of forums, exchange and collaborative research programs aimed at identifying opportunities for the next generation of agriculture professionals.

The AgIR project is supported by the Australian government through the Australia-Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and will be led by Dr Risti Permani, Senior Lecturer in Agribusiness in DBS’s Department of Economics at Deakin’s Warrnambool Campus and IPB University’s academics  Dr Sahara (Head of Department of Economics) and Dr Suprehatin (Senior Lecturer, Department of Agribusiness) with the support from FEM Dean Professor Nunung Nuryartono.

IPB University is Deakin’s key partner in Indonesia and earlier this year, delegates from both universities met to discuss potential initiatives in the areas relevant to DBS including agribusiness.

Dr Permani says the project will have a strong focus on Victoria’s south-west region.

‘With the production value of $2.6 billion in 2017-18, the Warrnambool and south-west region represents nearly one-fifth of agricultural production in Victoria. The area is also home to thousands of farms and a number of large dairy and meat processing companies, providing significant employment opportunities, along with a number of training and education institutions offering agriculture-related courses including Deakin Warrnambool’s agribusiness specialisation.’

Increased demand for animal-based protein and high-quality food products, a growing middle income class, and agricultural development in Indonesia all signal new opportunities between Indonesia and Victoria’s south-west which Dr Permani says extend beyond traditional trade relationships.  

‘We believe these opportunities include potential partnerships in the research and education sector as ways to address skills shortage in the south-west Victorian agriculture sector.  This is particularly evident given the recently-signed Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership that strengthens the bilateral economic partnership between Australia and Indonesia and fosters economic cooperation between businesses, communities and individuals,’ she explains.

With both Australia and Indonesia’s agricultural sectors currently facing challenges around global market competition, resources constraints, food safety and natural disasters, Dr Permani says that for the agricultural industry  to survive – and thrive – it must boost its levels of innovation and resilience.

‘Until now, we haven’t discussed much about how young people can address the need for innovation and resilience. We have seen the millennials driving innovations in ag-tech space in Australia and e-commerce development in Indonesia, but there is more to explore and much more that we want to understand about how can the youth in the two countries collaborate with each other,’ she explains.

The AgIR project officially launches its activities on 16 December at the Agricultural Youth Forum at Bogor’s IPB International Convention Centre where Ryan Veale (co-founder of STRUT) and Lucy Powell (an agronomist based in south-west Victoria) will share their experiences with Indonesian university students, industry and government representatives.

In 2020, IPB University’s academic staff and Indonesian agribusiness experts will visit the Deakin Warrnambool Campus to talk more about Indonesian’s agriculture industry, agribusiness industry opportunities in south-west Victoria and attend an engagement event hosted by Deakin Warrnambool and supported by Warrnambool City Council and the Great South Coast Food and Fibre Council.

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