Keeping up with the latest developments in Indonesia’s agribusiness sector is a must if you dream of being the next successful generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs in the country. One of the country’s most vital sectors, it provides jobs and incomes for millions of farmers and creates indirect employment for millions more. And its potential for growth is unabated as the world population keeps increasing – there will be more mouths to feed and more demand for agricultural products in the years to come. And with that, vast business opportunities just waiting to be tapped.
That’s why some 30 students from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) Graduate School of Business, including the daughter of President Joko Widodo, spent the day at our Biotechnology Centre in Sentul, Bogor.
There, they learnt that the Centre doesn’t only just look at how to produce more palm oil, but also how to produce it sustainably and with less impact on the environment. The students were quick to realise that sustainable uses of palm oil such as biofuel can open up interesting business avenues.
“I am fascinated to learn what Sinar Mas has done so far in the research and development area to help advance the Indonesian palm oil industry,” said Diambi, one of the visiting students. “I am very impressed to see how the company develops new technologies, not just to improve oil palm productivity, but also in other important areas, such as waste management and biofuel development, which offer enormous potential in Indonesia.”
The SMART Biotechnology Centre is a state-of-the-art research facility in West Java operated by the company’s Plant Production and Biotechnology Division. Here, our employees come up with innovations in tissue culture and biotechnology which help improve the quality of the seed stock, leading to higher productivity per hectare.
Agriculture is a holistic field and in addition to planting good seeds, you must also learn to use fertiliser smartly – not too much, not too little and applying it at the right time for maximum effect – this is something that the R&D teams continuously improve on. Then there’s the issue of pests and diseases – the teams also work on how best to manage these without using too much chemical herbicides and pesticides. In other words, their daily business is designing the best agronomy practices for sustainable palm oil cultivation.
The work carried out at the biotechnology centre is crucial if palm oil is to continue to remain a top income earner for millions of Indonesian farmers and support the future generation of Indonesian workers who will make a living in the agricultural sector. R&D helps palm oil retain its place as the most productive vegetable oil crop in the world (and therefore one of the most sustainable). It’s already inspired the group of budding businessmen and women that visited the Centre.
“The centre has advanced processes and technologies which I believe demonstrate how the palm oil sector can compete globally. It’s important that university students learn how the Indonesian sustainable palm oil industry has advanced and I hope more universities will come and benefit from this research facility, so they are able to apply what they have learned in classrooms,” said Laras, who’s studying in the IPB School of Management.
Read more about SMART’s research and development activities in our Sustainability Report 2015.