This month Dr Risti Permani is our Researcher in Focus.
What is the aim of your research?
I am passionate about research than can assist policy makers produce welfare-enhancing programs and policy. There are various ways to improve the society’s welfare. My past research focused on the education sector and rural development. My research focus at present is smallholder-inclusive business models. My research attempts to understand ways to effectively include smallholder producers in food value chains by getting a better understanding of information flows in the chains; coordination between actors in food value chains and strategies to incentivise smallholder producers to adopt innovations. I am currently involved in two projects led by Professor Wendy Umberger (Director of Global Food Studies) that look at these aspects using case studies in six APEC member countries and dairy sector in Indonesia.
What type of research do you do (e.g., field work)?
Given my diverse research topics, I have used secondary data as well as primary data in my work. I’ve used secondary data from the FAO, the UN, the World Bank and some other resources to support my research on agricultural trade. I’ve done field work in Indonesia collecting dairy farm household data, a school-based survey looking at children’s dairy consumption as well as organised capacity building workshops assisting in-country researchers from universities and government agencies develop their research capacity in particular value chain analysis.
What was your PhD topic?
My PhD thesis was on the socio-economic impacts of the Indonesian government educational reform and factors affecting social and human capital in rural communities in Indonesia under the supervision of Prof Christopher Findlay. It’s quite different from my current research topics but they’re all about development programs and strategies to improve the society’s welfare!
What is your favourite part of being a researcher?
My favourite part of being a researcher is knowing that we have the opportunity to influence policy discussions. Interactions with farmers and school children during the fieldwork were not only insightful but could also be somewhat a motivation boost to produce research that can make ‘an impact’. I also love using the knowledge that I gain from my research to help my students develop their research and career. Conference and training attendance is always enjoyable providing opportunities to networking and develop my research capacity.
What is the hardest part of being a researcher?
Journal rejection and a never ending revise and resubmit process! This process is, however, a great learning opportunity in itself and a rewarding one.
What advice would you give to other aspiring researchers?
Working with researchers who are passionate about their research is a positive driver to improve our research motivation and capacities. I have been privileged to be part of Global Food Studies that consists of talented researchers who have high commitment to research and are open to new ideas.