The use of plants for biomass has expanded enormously, but these applications may also threaten sustainability. The NWO-KNAW research programme Agriculture Beyond Food studies developments and potential dilemmas in the field of green economy in Indonesia.
At a concluding symposium in Jakarta on 27 november, the book ' Agriculture Beyond Food: experiences from Indonesia ', will be offered to the Indonesian Deputy Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education, Agus Hoetman, by NWO-WOTRO Director Renéé van Kessel.
The increasing importance of agriculture for other purposes than food has conflicting consequences. Research within the scientific research programme Agriculture Beyond Food (ABF) shows that the cultivation of oil palm is an important impetus to economic growth in Indonesia. This expansion takes place increasingly at the expense of rice fields, which is at odds to the need for local food security. At the same time, the intensification comes with deforestation and expansion in the ecologically vulnerable peatlands which results in negative effects for sustainability.
One of the challenges is to realise the benefits of sustainability on a small-scale level as well, for example by making use of waste products to generate energy. Not only technological solutions are needed to accomplish this, but also a consistent and long-term policy. Like many other developing countries, Indonesia faces the challenge to benefit from biomass production, without jeopardising food security, biodiversity and socio-economic development. To meet this challenge, technical, social, economic and legal scientists worked together and took into account the whole context of the green economy.
Agriculture Beyond Food research programme
The Agriculture Beyond Food research programme stimulates long term cooperation between research groups from Indonesia and Netherlands on the potential benefits of biomass and the social, economic and policy impact. It connects to the NWO theme sustainable Earth and the Scientific Programme Indonesia-Netherlands (SPIN) of the KNAW. Agriculture Beyond Food is divided into three clusters: the introduction of Jatropha as an alternative biofuel, mobile technologies for biodiesel production, and the effects of an increasing production of palm oil. Agriculture Beyond Food started in 2008, and a total of 2.5 million euros is available for the research. The programme is financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO-WOTRO), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and is carried out in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (formerly RISTEK).