Helping Indonesian dairy farmers prosper

A University of Adelaide research team from the Centre for Global Food & Resources is leading a major international collaborative project to help West Javan and North Sumatran dairy farmers significantly increase the quantity and quality of the milk they produce—and achieve sustainable growth.

Despite our relatively small population, Australia is a big player in dairy. We currently rank fourth in world dairy trade, with a 6% share, and our industry—including farmgate, manufacturing and export revenue—is valued at A$13.7 billion. A large part of this success can be attributed to widespread adoption of best-practice farm management approaches and efficiency-enhancing technologies, in turn advancing local industry knowledge and capability.

Now, the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Global Food and Resources is helping to share the benefit of that accumulated expertise with one of our closest, and largest, international neighbours—Indonesia. The Centre was appointed by the federal government’s Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research in 2016 to lead IndoDairy, a four-year collaborative project designed to provide a much-needed boost to struggling dairy farmers’ output in West Java and North Sumatra.

Producers in these regions face significant challenges. But according to project leader Professor Wendy Umberger, the IndoDairy team’s stated goal of increasing quality and quantity of milk produced by thousands of smallholder dairy farmers is within reach.

“The dairy supply chains in West Java and North Sumatra currently suffer from poor economies of scale, limited forage availability and quality, a lack of knowledge in animal health practices, and very limited business skills,” says Professor Umberger.

“But we’re optimistic we can address all key issues and help develop local farmers’ capacity to ensure the sector’s sustainable development.”

In its first year of operation, the team has conducted a baseline dairy-farm survey to identify existing and future whole-of-chain opportunities for industry and government, and barriers currently in their way. Analysis of the data from this survey, collected digitally, will later inform the design, testing and deployment of innovative practice-change programs in collaboration with Indonesian project partners.

“We’ve already been able to create opportunities for local producers to incorporate innovative and relevant agronomic, dairy science, social and economic knowledge and research into practice through effective communication with their dairy cooperatives,” adds Professor Umberger.

“The practice-change programs will then build extensively on this foundation. Dairy industry professionals from the external Australian agencies will personally train the Indonesian farmers in best-practice production and farm management.”

Complementing the direct work with producers, the project team is simultaneously engaging Indonesian dairy industry policymakers and influencers. A Policy Working Group (PWG) has been established, including representatives from the: Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs; Directorate General of Livestock and Health Services; Indonesian Dairy Farmers Association; and project partners the Indonesian Centre for Animal Research and Development (ICARD), Indonesian Centre for Agricultural Socio Economic and Policy Studies (ICASEPS) and the Bogor Agricultural University’s School of Business (SB-IPB).

Professor Umberger says the PWG will play an important role in helping IndoDairy act as a catalyst for the growth and development of the Indonesian dairy sector, but could also lead to further collaborations between the two countries.

“We’ve effectively created a blueprint with IndoDairy. Our project methodology can now be readily adapted to identify value-chain issues and develop solutions for other industries in the Indonesian agrifood sector.”

Related links:
Food Innovation
The Centre for Global Food and Resources
Professor Wendy Umberger’s profile

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