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Blog post prepared by Livia Padilha

Recently, I attended a workshop on “Agricultural Research Leadership and Management” with some of my fellow PhD students from Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) . The workshop was organised by Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID) and The Crawford Fund.

The two and a half day workshop was aimed at presenting participants tools related to managing and leading in the context of agricultural research for international development. One of the most interesting things about this workshop was the diversity of the workshop participants. There were PhD students, early career researchers and experienced professionals from varied educational backgrounds and experience.

RAID Workshop Participants

Prof. Shaun Coffey and Lynne O’Brien from The Crawford Fund  were the presenters and led the workshop. Both introduced key concepts and discussed with the group, themes such as challenges in leading research activities in different countries, dealing with human resource issues in fieldwork, introducing concepts of organisational leadership, and managing discussions in cross-cultural contexts. During the first day, we shared our experiences on management/ and leadership with Shaun. We focused on questions regarding different cultural environments we work in. As most of the participants had experience of working in international projects, there was active participation from everyone and a healthy group discussion.

From Left: Mr. Peter Ninnes, Prof. Sarah Wheeler and Dr. Peter Hayman at the panel discussion

In the evening of the first day, RAID had organised a networking event and a panel discussion. Participants and other interested people from the R4D space had a chance to listen to a panel on ‘Challenges of managing and leading international research for development projects’ from Prof. Sarah Wheeler, Associate Director of Research at GFAR, Dr. Peter Hayman Principal Scientist, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and Mr. Peter Ninnes, International Research for Development Consultant). Prof. Wheeler talked about her experience as a female researcher working in international projects and her views on the need of maintaining gender equity in agricultural research for development. Dr. Hayman spoke about his experiences of working and managing teams with people from varied backgrounds and Mr. Ninnes spoke about his experiences of working in different African countries.

Participants at the networking event

On the second day of the workshop, Lynne conducted interactive exercises, where we had the opportunity to role play in different situations and got insights into good vs. bad leadership, how to manage difficult conversations and guidance on providing constructive feedback to people you manage in a team. It was a very productive day where we also explored self-awareness regarding our personal leadership styles and how certain characteristics can influence our managerial and leadership skills. We discussed what are the strengths and weakness from each style and which one to pay more attention to, in order to improve in that sphere.

One of the group activities

The last day was focused on projects, or as we may also call, a ‘currency’ researchers work with. One of the main practical exercises we had to do was how to develop a project and its delivery, but especially how to translate project objectives into KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). The group was divided into two subgroups and was asked to build a research team, considering all the information we had learned, this activity involved defining roles, setting goals and measure our project success.

Overall, the workshop and the panel session provided us with new skills to better ‘navigate’ our professional environment. In addition, it was a valuable chance to get to know researchers from other institutions and outside academia, to share our thoughts and current activities with them.

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Dairy consumption in Indonesia is on the rise. Increasing per capita income, urbanisation, emerging middle class and westernisation of diets has led to a significant increase in the demand for milk and milk products. However, the production of dairy in Indonesia is regionally consolidated. Highest concentration of dairy farmers in Indonesia is on the island of Java. The Government of Indonesia (GoI) is investing substantial resources into the nation’s dairy sector, aiming to increase domestic production. There are significant challenges in the Indonesian dairy supply chain like highly variable quantity and quality of feed resources, low animal reproductive performance, poor mastitis management, dairy farming dominated by smallholder farmers (approx. 2-3 cows) and lack of understanding across the value chain of market dynamics, including price signals.

The high priority the Indonesian government has placed on dairy industry development aligns closely with Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) research priorities related to strengthening livestock management and marketing systems in Indonesia as well as improving smallholder access and competitiveness in rapidly transforming markets. The IndoDairy project funded by ACIAR and led by Prof. Wendy Umberger of Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) aims to increase milk supply (quantity and quality) by 25% by 2020 of at least 3000 dairy producers in West Java and Northern Sumatra.

The project team during one of the field activities

The key activities of this project include implementation of a dairy farm household survey, value chain analysis of dairy value chains in West Java and North Sumatra, review of existing policies for the dairy sector in Indonesia and guidelines and opportunities of heifer importation from Australia to Indonesia.

The results from the key activities of the project were shared with key policy makers from the Indonesian Government at the IndoDairy Policy Roundtable Discussion held recently. Key Indonesian government officials attended the policy roundtable from the Ministry of Coordinating Economic Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Livestock and Animal Health, Ministry of Cooperatives and small to medium enterprises and key members of the IndoDairy project team.

Participants of the Indodairy Policy Roundtable Discussion

During the roundtable there was a lot of useful discussion representing different areas of government and policy making. GFAR researcher Jack Hetherington summarises some take home messages from the participants of the policy roundtable discussion:

  • Developing policies that will support the development of innovative business models is essential. Business models need to be inclusive of smallholder farmers, sustainable and commercially viable.
  • Dairy cooperatives play a key role in the Indonesian dairy sector due to the small production scales of farmers in West Java. Additionally, they play an important the role as a catalyst of community development.
  • Increasing the number of dairy cows per farm is one way to increase the domestic production and decreasing the reliance on imported milk products (e.g. powdered milk). This can be achieved by increasing importation of dairy cattle.
  • There is an opportunity to increase the milk price received by farmers through introduction and monitoring of standards around milk quality. Currently, there are no standards around how milk products are labelled, so ‘fresh’ milk may contain a proportion of powdered products. By introducing policies on labelling of that recognise ‘fresh’ milk as a being 100% from liquid milk (ie not reconstituted milk) will give a more competitive edge to smallholders in Indonesia.
  • Other key priorities for policy development is improving animal welfare standards through provision of good quality feeds and better farm management practices.
  • Research and development needs to focus on encouraging use of by-products of the food industry as a source of feed for dairy cattle. Feeds, such as tofu waste, can be a cheaper alternative to concentrates and are high in important nutrients (e.g. protein). These can be used to balance dairy cattle diets, especially when concentrate costs are high or the availability is low.

At the Policy Roundtable, the IndoDairy Smallholder Household Survey (ISHS) Factsheets were launched. The set of factsheets provide a complete overview of the information gained from the analysis of data collected from the Indonesian Smallholder Household Survey (ISHS).

The factsheets provide insight into the dairy farm characteristics of smallholder dairy farms of West Java and give detailed information on farmer attitudes, perceptions of change, dairy farm inputs, milk productivity, milk prices, milk quality aspects, dairy farming costs, revenue and profitability. This new knowledge about the dairy sector in Indonesia has been used to develop an extension and technology dissemination study with five dairy co-operatives in West Java.

For more information on the project, visit our website or

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Blog prepared by Rio Maligalig  

GFAR researcher, Rio Maligalig, participated in the 5th International Rice Congress (IRC2018) held in Singapore from 15 to 17 October 2018. The congress is held every four years and is the world’s largest gathering of scientists, researchers, industry experts and players in the rice sector. The theme of this year’s congress was “Transformative Science for Food and Nutrition Security”.

The IRC2018 officially opened on 15 October with message from H.E. Lawrence Wong, Minister of National Development, Singapore and keynote address from Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). In his keynote address, Mr. Houngbo emphasized the need to invest in rural transformation that is sustainable and inclusive. And with the challenges that the agriculture sector is facing such as climate change and depleting resources, small scale farmers, including the youth, will need many innovations, from new cultivation practices to new sources of financing.

IRC2018 keynote address by IFAD President Gilbert Houngbo

The IRC2018 also organized a special World Food Day program on 16 October. A panel discussion was held to share thoughts and ideas on how the youth can lead the way towards a zero-hunger world by 2030. Some of the key messages include listening to the youth and taking into consideration their voice in policy development and providing the youth with role models or mentorship programs.

The IRC2018 featured the International Rice Research Conference (IRRC 2018) and the 8th Rice Genetics Symposium (RG8). Rio presented her  paper in the IRRC 2018 under the theme “Social inclusion and gender equality”. The paper, co-authored with Prof. Wendy Umberger, Dr. Alexandra Peralta and Dr. Matty Demont (International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Senior Economist), examined intrahousehold decision making on investment in rice breeding for future rice varietal trait improvements using the Investment Game Application (IGA) developed at IRRI.

Rio Maligalig during her presentation at the IRC2018

Rio also participated in a Scholars Café session, organized by Dr. Matty Demont. The session was organized to bring together all the research done by Postdocs, PhD scholars, and other researchers under the Flagship Program 2 (FP2): Upgrading Rice Value Chains of the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on rice agri-food systems. Six pairs of scholars from a pool of FP2 scholars attending the IRC were randomly drawn. The six pairs were asked to prepare a joint 10-minute presentation wherein they presented and aligned their research through a common framework, identified common challenges (both in terms of doing the research and in upgrading the rice value chains), developed policy recommendations and proposed suggestions for joint future research. Rio was paired with Helene Ba, PhD Student at the Paris Est University in France. Helene’s research is on how to internalize sustainability standards in contract farming. For joint future research, Rio and Helene suggested the use of experimental games (i.e., IGA) in eliciting farmer preferences for improvements in contract farming attributes.

Rio Maligalig, with Helene Ba and Matty Demont during the FP2 Scholars Café

The IRC2018 was organized by IRRI, along with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), and with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as the international partner.

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Blog prepared by Nikki Dumbrell Each year The Australian Farm Institute hosts a Roundtable conference with a topical theme. This year the conference was held at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra on Tuesday 16 October with the theme “Evidence meets emotion”. This theme follows on from their John Ralph Essay competition earlier in […]

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The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an intergovernmental platform aiming to fill the gaps between the science-policy interfaces regarding the natural resources management. Sacha Amaruzaman, a PhD student of the Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) has recently been admitted in the IPBES Fellowship programme in the IPBES Global […]

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The Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program offered by the Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) provides students the opportunity to develop the conceptual and practical skills necessary for agribusiness leadership, management decision making, policy analyses and problem solving in a complex global agrifood market place. We are excited to welcome another Industry Leaders Fund […]

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For a project focusing on developing value chain innovation platforms to improve food security in East and Southern Africa, funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), GFAR researchers Dr. Daniel Gregg and Prof. Randy Stringer  are currently in Uganda. The purpose of the current visit is to run picker contracting experiments and identify […]

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Blog post prepared by Sacha Amaruzaman In Indonesia, there are some 48 million people in 32,000 villages living in and around forest boundaries. The majority of these households rely on upland landscapes for subsistence, livelihoods and economic development. Loss of agricultural productivity and ecosystem services leads to reduced incomes followed by increased poverty and food […]

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GFAR researcher Alexandra Peralta has just returned from Uganda last week. She was in Uganda with colleagues from the Michigan State University to conduct field experiments for the ACIAR  project on ‘Developing value chain innovation platforms to improve food security in East and Southern Africa’. In this blog, Alexandra recounts her experience of this field […]

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GFAR PhD candidate, Sitti Rahma Ma’Mun, recently participated in the International Conference and the 65th International Executive Council (IEC) Meeting of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID)  in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The conference theme was “Innovative and Sustainable Agri-Water Management: Adapting to a variable and changing climate”. The ICID 2018 International Conference was […]

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