Commencement. The Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRCNPB) commenced bilateral engagement with Indonesia in 2006 through a year-long pilot study focusing on Eastern Indonesia with its close proximity to Australian borders. Initial activities involved seed funding 20 small projects to identify key of topics for investigation and key partners, many of whom remain active to this day. During this phase of activities several important individuals received PhD training under CRCNPB auspices, notably, (a) Dr Wayan Mudita, now Deputy Rector for Partnership at Nusa Cendana University (UNDANA) in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara Province, a recognised biosecurity expert; (b) Professor Sang Putu Kaler Surata, the University of Mahasaraswati Denpasar UNMAS, with his colleague Dr Eka Martiningsih, leaders in community education and training; (c) Dr Theofransus Litaay,Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana UKSW, later to become Advisor to Deputy Chief of Staff, The Executive Office of the President of the Republic of Indonesia.
This productive pilot year presaged the funding of a 5 year project starting in 2007 and launched by an International Biosecurity Summit, held Bali. National policy personnel, the Director General of Higher Education and international academic experts, including Professor Cornelia Flora from the Centre for Regional Economic Development at Iowa State University, along with biosecurity experts from across the two countries took part. Priorities from the Summit were formulated into a five-year agenda spear-headed by the newly established Australian Indonesia Biosecurity Community Management Project (AusIndoBIOCOM), whose members included:
- Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRC NPB Ltd.), Canberra, Australia
- Charles Darwin University (CDU), Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
- Universitas Mahasaraswati (UNMAS), Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
- Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana (UKSW), Salatiga, Central Jawa, Indonesia
- Universitas Nusa Cendana (UNDANA), Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
- Bursa Pengetahuan Kawasan Timur Indonesia (BaKTI), Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
- Pacific Institute for Sustainable Development (PI), Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
The strategic plan for AusIndoBIOCOM began with the Vision of ‘Researching and applying ways of managing change in major issues such as biosecurity at international, national, regional and community level in order to alleviate poverty and related major social problems‘.
By the time the CRCNPB finished its term in 2012 the major outcomes of AusIndoBIOCOM included:
- 12 Higher Degree Research student completions supported in the field of plant biosecurity, two from Australia, the rest from Indonesia. The latter group have now become key decision-makers in Indonesia and are influencing biosecurity positively;
- a book published by Springer (2011) Managing Biosecurity Across Borders, containing chapters by 11 authors on all aspects of plant biosecurity impacting on effective border management of all kinds, and
- an enduring network of individuals with a commitment to promoting biosecurity to the benefit of Indonesia and Australia..
The Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC – 2012-2018) re-evaluated the Indonesia linkages and commenced a program of engagement which continues to the present.
Following an exploratory workshop in March 2015, involving the individuals mentioned, above, a second International Biosecurity Summit was held in Denpasar in May 2015. The Australian and Indonesian governments were represented at high levels at this meeting and maintain their engagement. A major contribution was made to the preparation of aThought Leadership Paper (TLP) “Opportunities and Benefits for Collaboration on Indonesian Plant Biosecurity: A Bilateral Approach”, representing a rigorous needs analysis of biosecurity needs nationally, and how best these needs could operate in a bilateral framework. Importantly, a proposal to consolidate existing linkages led to an Agreement to form a Bilateral Plant Biosecurity Initiative (BPBI), formalised in April 2016.
Under BPBI’s auspice four research projects were established, each hosted by one of the BPBI’s core partners:
- ‘Science and Technology Initiatives’: exploring the use of IT for pest and disease identification in resource-poor conditions. A project hosted by UNDANA in Kupang;
- ‘Biodiversity for Food Security’: discovering new information, conditions for growing and future potential for alleviating food security in future contexts of changed conditions, using two crops in Wallacea as exemplars, the Giant Swamp Taro, and the Sago Palm family. A project hosted by UNSRAT and the Pacific Institute, Manado, in conjunction with Universitas Andi Djemma UNANDA, Palopo South Sulawesi;
- ‘Policy and
Quarantine’: This project
‘Quarantine, trade and market access’ was hosted by UKSW, and first explored
the needs for a new kind of policy structure to meet present day needs (See TLP
Appendix 3), and then
- ‘The purpose of the UKSW project is the development and establishment of a National Biosecurity body such as a Taskforce coordinating and supporting BPBI’s Indonesian bilateral activities through an Action Group.
- It should build strong links across the private and public sectors, including higher education.
- The support and endorsement of the cross portfolio government bodies concerning biosecurity should be part of the process’.
- ‘National model for disseminating biosecurity nationally’: UNMAS hosted this project, which had three components, education (school-level), training and community awareness. Each component dovetailed into an integrated community awareness education and training model.
A fifth project was cross-cutting, and established a Remote Microscope in each of the above four sites with associated capacity building. A sixth project resulted from information on the reports of the spread of Banana Blood Disease towards Australia from its known habitats in Indonesia, and involved a collaboration between Professor Andre Drenth (University of Queensland) a recognised World authority, and Dr Wayan Mudita Mudita from UNDANA, Kupang. The project mapped the territory of the disease’s spread as of 2018.
The four ‘BPBI’ projects were completed before the close of the PBCRC on June 30 2018. The success of this venture encouraged BPBI and other collaborators to support the establishment of an Indonesian Biosecurity Foundation (IBF), formalised in October 2017 and with interest in common with those of the Australian Plant Biosecurity Science Foundation (APBSF).
The purpose of the IBF is to identify, prioritise and coordinate research and development for plant, animal and human biosecurity in Indonesia. Evidence-based research and capacity building activities will, in turn, assist development of public and private sector policy and regulation.
‘The IBF contributes to stronger food security and sovereignty through enhanced plant, animal and human biosecurity systems for Indonesia’
‘The IBF coordinates and prioritises research and development so that biosecurity concerned bodies can attract and deploy funding for targeted capacity building and research activities that strengthen food security and sovereignty’.
One early national outcome of IBF was the co-hosting of a national Workshop, held in Bogor in September 2018, in conjunction with LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Sciences), CABI, the Crawford Fund and APBSF. Its chief outcome was a decision to promote the unification of Indonesia’s disparate ‘biosecurity’ policies and regulations under the single banner BIOSECURITY and, through various agencies, to promote strongly the community awareness of a unified notion of biosecurity.
Master Class January 2018
In January 2018 a Crawford Fund Master Class, co-funded by the PBCRC and supported by CABI was held in Denpasar when 26 participants from across the Indonesian archipelago met for two weeks of presentations and discussions with Indonesian and Australian biosecurity workers. Previously unknown to each other, following this experience the participants have created an enduring and very active network which is further expanding the compass of BPBI and IBF. Collected papers by participants ‘Aspects of Biosecurity in Indonesia’ were published by PBCRC in January 2018.
A new concept, that of of Regional Master Classes, is being realised in order to reduce overall costs and to achieve greater market penetration of biosecurity in Indonesia. Each Class will be one full week, and restricted to the region for which the host institution is the hub. Each Regional Master Class RMC will aim to achieve training at a high level in each of the regions, across practitioners, knowledge workers, portfolios and sectors. The first of these is to occur in February 2019, hosted by UKSW in the Central Java region and supported by The Crawford Fund. The second and third are yet to be determined, but three other universities have already agreed in principle to be hosts.
A key indicator of the impact of the CRC-initiated bilateral agenda was a Google search conducted on 24 May 2017 for the term ‘Indonesia Plant Biosecurity’. This search yielded one result – a reference to the 2007 bilateral May Summit in Bali. A similar, recent, search garnered 366,000 results, which included the Springer book (see above), the January 2018 Master Class, and the signing of the BPBI/PBCRC bilateral agreement on 7 April 2016. In other words, the profile of biosecurity in Indonesia has been raised very considerably in the recent past.
Much has been achieved over the period of bilateral engagement through modest CRCNPB/PBCRC investment in capacity building and raising awareness of the significance of biosecurity to the two countries. The importance of Indonesia as a near neighbour and a key trading partner argues for continued bilateral involvement. The advent of the APBSF and the congruence of its objectives with those of the IBF provide a suitable vehicle for future work.
The APBSF has already shown willingness to support Regional Master Classes in 2018. The appetite for continuing this initiative will depend on a continuation of the present enthusiasm by Indonesian colleagues. It is significant that the RMC concept and the willingness to promote a national agenda, emanating from the Bogor Workshop of September 2018, has gained impetus from Indonesian colleagues involved with the IBF. Co-investment is now regarded as the norm.
The Crawford Fund and CABI have proven to be active supporters of bilateral activities. Furthering these linkages affords an additional means by which the APBSF’s interest in international biosecurity issues and in capacity building can be advanced.
John Lovett, Ian Falk