From the American People
Agriculture is key to the economy of Indonesia, where it accounts for 43% of total employment and directly contributes 15% to the GDP. Despite its importance and role in the national economy, national food production is still insufficient to meet the food security needs of Indonesia’s citizens. At current production levels, the area under cultivation would need to be vastly increased to support a food-secure Indonesia. Such an expansion would devastate the natural environment and lead to long-term negative effects for the people of Indonesia.
Agricultural Biotechnology provides a solution that is good both for the farmer and the environment. Biotechnology-enhanced crop species are better adapted to cope with biotic and abiotic challenges, from flooding to disease infestations to poor soils. These adaptations lead to higher yields on lands currently under cultivation, often with a decrease in chemical use as well, as biotechnology-enhanced crop species don’t need to be sprayed as often with fertilizer or pesticides. These advances in agricultural biotechnology result in benefits to the farmer, the environment, and to Indonesia’s long-term food security. USAID programs support research in agricultural biotechnology, and its transfer to farmers, as well as the creation of a sound biosafety and biotechnology regulatory system.
USAID’s programs in agricultural biotechnology focus on improving the agricultural sector through investing in research in, and promoting the adoption of, appropriate agricultural biotechnologies, as well as promoting a sound regulatory framework for their use.
USAID has invested over USD $3.4 million in agricultural biotechnology development projects throughout the archipelago.
USAID’s ABSPII program aims to strengthen and diversify Indonesia’s agricultural sector by developing high-yielding, disease-resistant crops. For example, ABSPII is developing a variety of potato engineered to be resistant to Phytophthora infestans or ‘late blight.’ Currently, farmers need to spray their conventional potatoes every 2 days over the course of a growing season with pesticides toxic to themselves and the environment; with the biotechnology-enhanced potato farmers will be able to reduce that to once a week or even less, while maintaining their yields. Thus, biotechnology provides benefits to the farmers’ income and health, while protecting the natural environment. Project funding is USD $710,000. The project involves partnering with Cornell University and will remain active through 2014.
USAID’s Bio-Safety System Program aims to improve Indonesia’s biosafety policies and regulatory framework (including food safety, food handling and public support for agricultural biotechnologies). Without a clear, streamlined regulatory framework and infrastructure in place, Indonesia will not have access to the full range of opportunities offered by agricultural biotechnology. Without a framework, local scientists are unable to release new varieties and international companies will not release their products in the local markets. PBS is implemented by the University of Michigan and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in partnership with the Indonesian Commission for Biosafety and involves partnering with Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture. Project funding is USD $500,000 and the project will remain active through 2014.
USAID provides support to the International Vegetable Research and Development Center. The Center’s mandate includes the development, by biotechnology and conventional means, of new vegetable strains, as well as their introduction and monitoring in Indonesia. These activities increase the market value of Indonesia’s agricultural sector while promoting increased incomes and environmentally-sound yield gains. Project funding is USD $1.5M, and it will remain active through 2014.
USAID’s Golden Rice Program aims to develop vitamin-fortified, locally-adapted, high-value rice in Indonesia, strengthening and increasing the overall market value of Indonesia’s rice sector. Golden Rice is a variety of rice that has been genetically-modified to produce beta-carotene, the substance that the body uses to create Vitamin A. The rice developed by this project will be provided to farmers for production in rural areas, where Vitamin-A-Deficiency often leads to blindness and other health complications. Project funding is USD $200,000.The project involves partnering with the International Rice Research Institute and will remain active through 2012.
USAID’s Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program aims to strengthen Indonesia’s food-to-market sector by developing and transferring integrated pest management technologies for cocoa, vegetable and rice crops. Project funding is USD $500,000 and involves partnering with Clemson University. The project will remain active through 2015.
9 Jun 2013
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