Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Agroforestry project impacting local farmers in Eastern Indonesia

Many farmers in Indonesia have either adopted high-value timber-based agroforestry systems or are involved in the collection and sale of non-timber products, often from remnant forest areas. While the agroforestry systems provide many benefits to the farmers, such as the ability to generate cash when they have large expenses, the trees take a number of years to reach a saleable size and these systems do not provide regular sources of income that farmers need. 

To address this important issue, ACIAR is funding the four-year “Kanoppi” agroforestry project in Eastern Indonesia which is conducting research to foster integration of timber and non-timber forest products in agroforestry systems and improve smallholders capacity to market high value products from these systems. The project is managed by the World Agroforestry Centre’s regional office in Bogor and involves collaboration with a with many Indonesian research and development partners, as well as with scientists from the University of Western Australia. The project also has two NGO collaborators, Threads of Life and World Wildlife Fund.

The landscape near Pelat on Sumbawa. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
The project is in its final year and recently held its annual workshop in Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara. This provided an opportunity to see some of the benefits that are already flowing to local farmers from this research.

The project is implementing participatory agroforestry trials with farmers in a number of villages in the hinterland of Sumbawa. In the village of Pelat, some participatory trials have been established within Pak Muis bin Hamid’s six year old teak plantation which is located on sloping land. The researchers have worked with the farmer to implement nine different silvicultural treatments, such as thinning and pruning the teak, and measure both the response of the teak trees and the yields from the non-timber products, such as ginger grown under the teak. The farmer, Pak Muis, has used some of the teak trees that were cut from his plantation to produce local furniture. He indicated that he was very happy with the support he is getting from the Kanoppi project and sees the integrated agroforestry system as the best way to increase his family’s livelihood. In NTB, markets for teak are more limited than in Java. During farmer field schools, the project farmers were linked with UD Makassar Utama, a local wood processor that exports timber to furniture manufacturers in Java. 

Teak-ginger trial at Pelat. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR

Pak Muis with the teak table he made. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
At the nearby hamlet of Brang Pelat, the project team has helped the community to develop a community enterprise based on local honey production from stingless bees (Trigona spp). The villagers have previously collected wild honey from the forest, but in the past year they have established 600 bee hives in the village and begun selling honey in Sumbawa and Lombok. The community has received training from the project in bee keeping and business management. The chairman of the community cooperative, Pak Juraidin, told us that they have generated IDR 26 million in revenue from honey sales in the past year and these funds are shared between the 120 households that belong to the cooperative.

Trigona bee hives at Pelat village. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
Discussing honey sales with Pak Juraidin. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
At Batudulung, each year between December and March the villagers collect candlenut (kemiri), the fruit from Aleurites moluccana, planted on their farms and from the surrounding forest. The project is helping to improve the quality of the nut processing, assisting with access to new markets in Lombok and Bali and exploring other value adding processes, such as the production of kemiri oil using a cold press technology appropriate to village-level production. The kemiri oil could be used in the cosmetics industry and the project team has commenced consultations with the Martha Tilaar Group in Indonesia in an effort to increase markets for value added non timber forest products.
Candlenut drying in the sun. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
The development of value-added products from candlenut has the potential to assist with empowerment of the women at Batudulung. They are responsible for drying and cracking the kemiri nuts, for which they currently use a very labour intensive method. Besides being hard physical work, the high cost of cracking the nuts limits the financial viability of this enterprise, particularly later in the season when the price of cracked nuts falls. Ibu Harnani, who operates a nut processing facility and sales point in Batudulung, indicated that candlenuts are an important source of income for the village but the cracking process is very hard work for the women. Following the field visit we are exploring opportunities to introduce a low cost nut cracking machines that were developed for the ACIAR Canarium nut project in Papua New Guinea. This could ease the burden on women, increase the productivity of nut cracking and hence the profitability of these enterprises.
Ibu Harnani hand cracking candlenuts. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR

By Tony Bartlett, Forestry Research Program Manager, ACIAR

Friday, 29 April 2016

ACIAR project leader announced as Australia’s ASPIRE award nominee

Congratulations to Associate Professor Lee Baumgartner, an ACIAR project leader, on his nomination for the prestigious 2016 APEC science prize for innovation, research and education (ASPIRE) Award. Dr Baumgartner supervises a series of ACIAR-funded fish way projects in Laos and has won the nomination for his work on food security and fisheries in developing nations. The recognition is due to the ground-breaking work in conjunction with Lao scientists in designing and implanting effective fish passage solutions to increase fisheries production, household income, food security and biodiversity.

From left: Professor Warren Bebbington, Vice Chancellor, University of Adelaide; Professor Bob Vincent FAA, University of Adelaide.; Matt Murray, Economic Counsellor, Embassy of the United States of America; Australian nominee Associate Professor Lee Baumgartner, Charles Sturt University; and Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Photo: T. Edwards, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Learning from engaging women leaders at the inaugural Women Leaders in Public Sector Forum

What makes a good leader? How to be a successful leader? How to remove traditional barriers to achieve improved gender representation in the public sector?

These were some of the questions explored and discussed at the inaugural Women Leaders in the Public Sector Forum, held at the Australian National University on 6 April 2016.

This quote was displayed during the forum.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Cassava farmers in Southeast Asia exposed to policy changes in global carbohydrate market

 J.C.Newby - CIAT Asia

The outlook for cassava in Southeast Asia has a long history of being closely tied to developments in global commodity markets. The fate of smallholder producers is subject to global trends and shocks brought about by changing government policies that have an impact on a range of substitutes in the carbohydrate market. 
Almost unknown to people outside the industry, the roots of this small perennial shrub (Manihot esculenta) are the source of what has become the starch of choice for many food and non-food applications due to its superior functional properties. Indeed, inspection of any Australian pantry, fridge and freezer will no doubt reveal several products containing cassava starch (or tapioca, as it is widely known) and flour. Its use in processed food has become increasingly prominent, with highly visible gluten-free products now found in major supermarkets rather than confined to health food stores. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Building on the benefits of conservation agriculture in North Africa

For the widespread adoption of conservation agriculture (CA) practices the understanding of its economic, agronomic, environmental and social benefits needs to be promoted amongst all stakeholders. A multidisciplinary, multi-institutional and multinational project, Conservation Agriculture for North Africa (CANA), supported by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) and implemented by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICARDA) with partners, worked across its three host countries -Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia - to drive and deepen the understanding of how CA conserves natural resources and cuts down production costs while reducing yield fluctuation and associated risks.

Promoting forage crops in Fernana platform, Tunisia (triticale and Vetch)

Increasing vegetable production in Central Province for Port Moresby Markets

Vegetables are an integral part of the diet of people in Papua New Guinea (PNG). For thousands of years, subsistence gardening has produced a wide range of edible indigenous plants, and more recently vegetables introduced by Europeans.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

ACIAR Commission engages with key partners during a five day visit to Pakistan

The Commission for International Agricultural Research visited Pakistan from 29 February to
4 March 2016 where they undertook a five day study tour as part of familiarisation with ACIAR activities and to build relationships with key government stakeholders, research partners and research teams to better understand the management and implementation of ACIAR work.

During the five day visit Commissioners travelled to Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad and Lahore to meet with representatives from government departments and universities, as well as a number of local growers, and were impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of ACIAR’s Pakistani partners.

Commissioner Catherine Marriott observing the work of a small machine used to make bales of fodder for preservation. Photo: Munawar Kazmi, ACIAR