Home' Partners : Partners June 2010 Contents PARTNER COUNTRY
PROJECT: Smallholder Agribusiness Development
CONTACT: David Shearer, ACIAR Agribusiness
research program manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
improved sowing efficiency (which improves
cultivation and harvesting efficiencies) and
also water-use efficiency, which is important
because irrigation water is limited once the rice
harvest is over. Peanuts are grown in rotation
with rice and give farmers an extra crop that
can use the soil moisture remaining in paddies.
Improved crop water-use efficiency, along
with improvements to the rate and timing of
fertiliser applications, plus new knowledge
about the use of fungicides to control aflatoxin,
are contributing to increased yields and a
healthier, higher-quality product.
Garuda Foods pays a premium for quality in
its quest to increase the local share of the fresh
peanuts market, which at the quality end is
dominated by imports.
Aflatoxin has been a major part of Anna's work,
which throughout her career has been driven by
a passion for research---something soon noticed
by Australian scientists when they first began
helping Indonesia lift its peanut production
in the early 1990s. With the encouragement
of Queensland peanut researchers Dr Graeme
Wright and Dr Mike Bell, Anna successfully
applied to ACIAR for a John Allwright Fellowship
that allowed her to undertake a PhD in Australia,
which she completed in 1998.
Anna was a young mother, making it a
difficult decision, but illustrating the depth of
her commitment as an agricultural researcher.
"At first I said no because I had a new baby
boy, my second child after my little girl, and it
was important for me to be a good mother,"
she says. "Doing a PhD in Australia would mean
being away from my family for five years."
However her husband, Joko Purnomo, is also
a researcher and understood the value of the
ACIAR scholarship. He persuaded Anna not to
turn down such an opportunity.
"So the next time I saw Graeme Wright I
asked if the scholarship was still available. I
convinced him I was serious and he gave me a
lot of help with the application."
Anna's baby was just 10 months old when
she went to Denpasar to attend English classes.
Then in the following year when her daughter
was three-and-a-half and her son just 18
months she left home for study in Australia.
"It was hard being away from my children but
I really enjoyed studying in Australia. The facilities,
and especially the library, were so good."
The academic experience further heightened
Anna's research ambitions. "Everything about
research excites me. Research gives you a
freedom for thinking and problem solving."
After finishing her PhD Anna was invited
to join the ACIAR-supported peanut initiative
in Indonesia and has been involved with the
program ever since, concentrating on reducing
the damaging, and often deadly, impact of
"The problem is a combination of issues:
partly postharvest management, but also a
tendency by farmers to harvest too soon," Anna
says. "The time of harvest is influenced more by
the market price than by the crop's maturity.
If prices are up, farmers will harvest even if
the peanuts are not fully ripe and therefore
susceptible to fungal attack," Anna explains.
"So the first thing to lower the risk of
aflatoxin is to get farmers to harvest at the
correct time. However, it is difficult to get
farmers, especially the older farmers, to change.
They will follow what you say when you are
working with them, but go back to their
old ways when you leave. So change can't
be achieved by researchers alone. It needs
extension support and the participation of
processors so new knowledge continues to be
reinforced after the researchers have gone.
"That is why linkage programs like the
ACIAR--SADI peanuts initiative are so important.
They involve everyone ... farmers, processors
Anna says she gains a lot of personal
satisfaction from her work and can see farmers
making considerable advances, but as a
researcher she is only too aware of the work
still ahead. "There is a lot of research to be done
to better control aflatoxin, as well as to help
farmers lift to a higher level of peanut quality
generally. There is a long way to go before we
achieve our ambition to produce export quality
peanuts ... but we have made a start." n
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