UNIVERSITY of New England (UNE) researchers are integral to a $11.7 million joint Australian-Indonesian program, IndoBeef, that aims to improve the capability of Indonesia’s smallholder-based beef industry.
Launched in Lombok, the program is supporting two projects that will investigate ways of improving the livelihoods of Indonesia’s smallholder beef cattle producers, and of enhancing the nation’s livestock carrying capacity.
The PalmCow project, led by UNE Adjunct Professor Dr John Ackerman, aims to enhance cattle production and carrying capacity by using some of Indonesia's vast palm oil plantations and improving the efficiency of beef value chains in crop-livestock systems.
The second project, CropCow, led by UNE Professor Heather Burrow, will focus on developing livestock husbandry and business skills of smallholder cattle producers.
IndoBeef is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The research will be jointly led by UNE and the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD) through the Indonesian Center for Animal Research and Development (ICARD).
For Australia’s northern beef industry, investment in a stronger Indonesian domestic cattle industry delivers greater opportunity for the north’s live cattle export sector, and ensures that beef remains an important protein in the Indonesian diet.
“Annual beef consumption in Indonesia is currently around two kilograms per person, but based on population growth this is expected to double or even triple over the next ten to twenty years,” said Professor Burrow.
“If that expansion happens then neither Australia nor Indonesia will be able to meet demand.”
Dr Atien Priyanti, the director of ICARD, believes that the IndoBeef projects will allow more of Indonesia's smallholder farmers to profit from the growing demand for beef within Indonesia.
In particular, she believes there is a great opportunity within IndoBeef to deliver proven approaches and technologies to many smallholder farmers.
“From the beginning, this project builds bridges between institutions and disciplines, acknowledges policy development from local to national levels, and links the public and private sectors,” Dr Priyanti said.
“This means that IndoBeef has a robust framework from which to build on the positive legacy of prior beef research in Indonesia.”
The Indonesian Government has a policy of improving food security through better beef production, but that goal is challenged by a scarcity of suitable grazing land.
“This means that strong trade opportunities for both beef and live cattle will continue to exist for Australian beef producers and most likely continue to grow over that time,” Prof. Burrow said.
IndoBeef’s research priorities were developed by ICARD in collaboration with the Australian Centre of International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which is administering the project.
CropCow project leader Prof. Burrow is one of Australia’s leading northern beef industry researchers. She was Chief Executive of the Beef Cooperative Research Centre, managing more than 200 researchers within the world-class industry-focused organisation.
PalmCow leader Dr John Ackerman has been based in Indonesia since 2006, working in a number of roles for Government and the red meat industry. He is the Government-appointed industry member of the Indonesia-Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector.
The $11.7 million IndoBeef project is expected to run over about four years.