Book Launch: ‘Agriculture Beyond Food: Experiences from Indonesia’
The NWO-KNAW research programme Agriculture Beyond Food (ABF) has studied developments and potential dilemmas in the field of green economy in Indonesia. At a concluding symposium in Jakarta on November 27, the book ‘Agriculture Beyond Food: Experiences from Indonesia’ with research findings of the programme was offered to the Indonesian Deputy Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education, Agus Hoetman, by NWO-WOTRO Director Renée van Kessel.
The research zooms in to Indonesia’s strive for green development with the ‘biobased economy’ as an important component for this ambition. This implies that biomass instead of oil is used as a base for fuels and products, resulting in decreased dependence on fossil fuels. Indeed, the growing importance of agriculture for non-food purposes triggered many complex questions; questions that could only be answered on the basis of robust and high-quality research.
The ABF programme has attempted to provide just that. Under its umbrella, Indonesian and Dutch researchers have conducted extensive research to shed light on the opportunities and threats for local communities and the environment.
Through the book, the ABF programme intends to share the research findings with a wider audience. The book provides the answers to some of the key questions surrounding agriculture beyond food as well as stories from the researchers in the field, and general lessons for policy and practice.
The book 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 peat lands which results in negative effects for sustainability.
One of the key questions in the book is: does the ideal of a biobased economy conflict with agriculture’s primary task to feed the world population? In an perfect world, agriculture beyond food does not need to threaten food security, but in practice it is already doing so. On the one hand, Indonesia profits from agriculture beyond food, but at the same time research shows that rice production is being put to the fringes.