Business as usual not enough to meet zone’s agricultural challenges


Photo credit: Shutterstock Images

By Sonia Nolan

‘Business as usual’ in agricultural production was not enough to meet the increasing challenges of climate change, water security and changing consumer appetites in the zone, according to Professor Gordon Flake, CEO, Perth USAsia Centre, speaking at the In the Zone 2016: Feeding the Zone forum in Jakarta today.

“We must do things differently,’ he said. “If we look at economic, consumption and production trends, there are some very real challenges in the zone, which gives us a strong case for action and fundamental change. The zone also holds the solutions and we will need co-operation, innovation and investment into the future. Big issues require big thinking.”

Leading thinkers in agriculture and trade, supported Professor Flake’s calls for collaboration and new approaches.

Dr Mari Pangestu, Former Trade Minister and Former Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia said multi-lateral partnerships would be needed to resolve issues of trading systems and distorted pricing.

“Nations are getting lost again on food self sufficiency and food security. I can see some countries getting nationalistic. In some parts of the world food self-sufficiency equals no imports. This is dangerous. It should be about availability, affordability and accessibility as well as feeding the nation.”

Dr Pangestu reminded delegates of the learnings from the 2008 food crisis when prices went up by 100 per cent and said governments had an important role in providing appropriate and well considered incentives.

“Incentives do matter. In 2008 there was a fuel and food debate. Food was being used as feedstock for biofuels because of incentives by governments to produce biofuels. We need a comprehensive approach of supporting systems – not just in production.”

Dr Pangestu said nutrition was a key focus when discussing agricultural production.

“We need to grow the right type of food to ensure good nutrition and encourage good mental and physical development in our children – especially in the early years of childhood,” she said.

She was confident that poverty and hunger could be eliminated through the use of technology, which could help increase yields and address many food issues. However she was mindful that the zone could only access this knowledge through cooperation with developed nations.

“Our fates are bound together. We will become more integrated and interdependent and technology will link us more closely. We need to get together and co-operate. We need 2 dialogue, communication and to understand each others needs so we can complement each other.”

Professor Kadambot Siddique AM, Director, the UWA Institute of Agriculture agreed and urged young people to embrace science and technology and to find solutions by studying overseas and then bringing the best knowledge back to the zone as an investment in the future of the region.

Professor Siddique said the food system was buckling under intense pressure from factors such as climate change, ecological degradation, population growth and rising demand for meat and dairy products.

Other contributing factors, he said, included rising energy prices and competition for land from biofuels, industry and urbanisation. “We have surging and unstable food prices and growing conflicts over water and the increased exposure of vulnerable population to drought and floods. Food prices are forecast to increase in the rage of 70 to 90 per cent by 2030 before the effects of climate change, which will roughly double the prices again” Professor Siddique said.

An internationally leading scientist in the field of legumes and crop science, Professor Siddique said the zone had the potential to feed up to 10 billion people but we needed to take responsibility for the planet’s boundaries and sustainability.

Professor Siddique highlighted the plight of the poor and hungry, specifically in subSaharan Africa and Southern Asia. He said the opportunity to reduce hunger, malnutrition and poverty could be achieved through agriculture and social protection-led strategies combined with targeted nutrition intervention.

New report urges connectivity and innovation for Indo-Pacific agriculture


Perth USAsia Centre CEO Gordon Flake and former Trade Minister of Indonesia Mari Pangestu discuss the Horizons: Feeding Asia publication; Photo credit: Michael Timothy

By Sonia Nolan

Increased connectivity, innovation and investment are needed to address agriculture and food security in the Indo-Pacific zone, according to a new report launched by the Perth USAsia Centre at the In the Zone 2016: Feeding the Zone forum in Jakarta today.

The report, ‘Horizon Volume 1: Feeding Asia – Innovation in Indo-Pacific Agriculture’, produced by Knowledge Society, outlines in visual graphic format the demographic and economic mandates for innovation, investment and international co-operation in the region.

The report addresses issues of over-population and a rising Asian middle-class; soaring food prices resulting in poverty and hunger; climate change; and an increasingly unavailable landmass for agricultural purposes.

In launching the report, Professor Gordon Flake, CEO, Perth USAsia Centre said business as usual would not be enough to meet the region’s challenges and a fundamental change was urgently needed.

“We will need international co-operation, innovation and investment.” The Horizon report recommends that:

  •  policy-makers think across the eco-system of food security especially noting that agricultural demands must be balanced with urbanisation, social development, industrialisation and environmental policies
  • innovation is leveraged to boost agricultural research and development to meet regional and global food demand
  • social investment, access to credit and technology diffusion are improved
  • smarter supply chains are built by upgrading logistics and storage infrastructure and strengthening and integrating supply-chain management
  • markets and trade are organised with greater efficiency, opening more opportunities for stronger policy-making and financial investment and reducing the fragmentation of Asian food production

The full report is available at: (graphics and visuals from the report are available upon request)

The complex and challenging issue of ‘Feeding the Zone’ is the subject of a one-day discussion in Jakarta, Indonesia today as part of the Perth USAsia Centre’s In the Zone 2016 event, in partnership with the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia. More than 1000 delegates from government, business and academia have convened to discuss strategic solutions to food and water security in the Indo-Pacific zone.

WA can do more to ‘feed the zone’


Western Australia’s Agriculture Minister Dean Nalder MLA; Photo Credit: Michael Timothy

By Sonia Nolan

Western Australia can do more to feed the Indo-Pacific zone, according to Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food, Hon Dean Nalder.

Through an increased WA government presence in Indonesia, encouraging innovation and investment in value-add supply chains, and by leveraging regional trade agreements to remove barriers, Western Australia would continue to play a significant role in ever increasing market opportunities within the zone.

Speaking to more than 1000 government, business and academic delegates at the In the Zone 2016: Feeding the Zone forum in Jakarta today, Mr Nalder said Western Australia was a major regional food producer.

In providing a snapshot of Western Australia’s trade activity with its closest neighbour Indonesia, Mr Nalder said the $7.79 billion trade partnership represented 14 per cent of WA’s total agrifood exports.

Wheat was by far the largest commodity traded with Indonesia, valued at $969 million in 2014/15. Live cattle, beef and cattle offal were the next largest contributors, valued at $88 million.

Mr Nalder said WA’s long-standing trade partnerships coupled with the demographic changes sweeping the region meant greater opportunities to ‘feed the zone’ and its rising ‘consuming classes’ through more innovative and strategic ways.

He cited Interflour, a partnership between Cooperative Bulk Handling Group (CBH) in Western Australia with Indofoods in Indonesia, as an example of successful leveraging of the regional food supply chain.

Mr Nalder said Interflour now operated nine flour mills across Asia with 70 per cent of the grain used coming from Western Australia. He said this innovative business model put WA wheat growers closer to customers and was a good example of a successful cross border partnership.

The proximity of Western Australia and its ability to ensure quality assured, premium exports was a great advantage to be further expanded, he said.

“WA’s proximity to South East Asia is a key asset. It takes a grain ship from Kwinana just five days to reach Jakarta, but it takes nine from Sydney. The transport of premium food products within quality systems to underpin the integrity will remain critical.

He said the three-year, $6 million Asian Market Success project, funded by the Western Australian Government’s Royalties for Regions program, aimed to open new, high-value Asian export markets and transform WA’s agrifood export models into internationally competitive approaches.

Innovative developments for new supply chains were already being explored through the Northern Beef Futures project.

He said the project “was investigating alternative supply chains using Special Economic Zones to feed and process Western Australian cattle in Thailand, providing the potential for this beef to be re-exported to other countries in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The economics of this proposal were already showing strong results and combined the strengths of WA’s primary producers with international value-add operators in the same time-zone, according to Mr Nalder.

Technology provided another key innovation for connectivity, traceability and verification of food safety. Mr Nalder was optimistic that the digital platforms of the future would promote Western Australia’s well-established reputation for producing high-quality, safe food products.

“As people in the region look to the next wave of hand-held technology, it is likely the digital economy will rapidly expand. Western Australia’s agribusiness sector is expected to benefit from this, as the supply and value chains increasingly work to enhance product quality, provenance and food safety.”

Science and technology would continue to play an important role in the future of Western Australian agribusiness, as would the state’s wealth of expertise in the logistics and maritime sector – experience which could be specifically harnessed for Indonesia’s current plans for significant port expansion.

“Western Australia which comprises over one third of Australia’s vast coastline has considerable expertise in the ports and maritime sector. We are already seeing some activity between WA companies and Indonesian port operators. This cooperation and development will increase the connectivity between Western Australia and Indonesia and make it easier to trade and invest.”

Fear and anxiety will compete with hope and success in zone’s race for food


Former President of Indonesia Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Addresses “In the Zone 2016”; Photo credit: Michael Timothy

By Sonia Nolan

Fear and anxiety will compete alongside hope and success in the zone as the Indo-Pacific region reaches new thresholds of population growth and inequality, according to Former Indonesian President His Excellency Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

In his keynote address at the In the Zone 2016: Feeding the zone conference in Jakarta today, HE Dr Yudhoyono said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted a bleak outlook for the world’s economy, where half of the world’s wealth was now owned by just one percent of people.

He said although South East Asian economies were growing at higher rates than any other, it was imperative that the Indonesian government maintained a focus on high economic growth despite the predicted slow down of global food production and the challenges presented by urbanisation and more people leaving the agricultural sector to find employment in other industries.

He said food wastage totaling about USD70 billion per year and was another area needing strong attention as leaders became increasingly more puzzled as to how the world population would feed itself in the future. HE Dr Yudhoyono was hopeful however that through regional co-operation and innovation the zone had the means to meet the needs of global food production.

The complex and challenging issue of ‘Feeding the Zone’ is the subject of a one-day discussion in Jakarta, Indonesia today as part of the Perth USAsia Centre’s In the Zone 2016 event, in partnership with the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia. More than 1000 delegates from government, business and academia have convened to discuss strategic solutions to food and water security in the Indo-Pacific zone.

Australia can move from ‘mining boom’ to ‘dining boom’

Australia can move from a ‘mining boom’ to a ‘dining boom’ according to talks yesterday between The University of Western Australia’s Perth USAsia Centre and former Indonesian President His Excellency Professor Doctor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Speaking with key University leaders at UWA, Dr Yudhoyono said his newly appointed position as Senior Fellow with the Perth USAsia Centre could assist in strengthening relations and interactions with ASEAN nations and in particular in encouraging agricultural partnerships which would integrate economies throughout the region.

Dr Yudhoyono referred to research he commissioned when President of Indonesia which revealed a cost of $US500 billion to build infrastructure to assist with food distribution and meet the changing agricultural needs of the country. He said Indonesia needed friendly partners like Australia to support infrastructure development and innovation in Asia.

He said with more grains, meat and other products not typically grown in Indonesia being increasingly consumed throughout Asia, infrastructure such as ports, roads and airports would be required to sustain the demand and import products. Australia, as a producer and near neighbour, could be a key partner in this ‘dining boom’.

Dr Yudhoyono also encouraged the Perth USAsia Centre to convene programs and research that strengthened bilateral relations and focused on the stability and peace of the Indo-Pacific region. He said he strongly believed that education was important for bilateral frienships and cooperation.

“I have a strong commitment to maintaining and strengthening our Indonesian- Australian relations. We cannot choose our neighbors but we can choose to be good neighbours,” Dr Yudhoyono said.

Perth USAsia Centre CEO, Professor Gordon Flake said the Centre was looking forward to working with Dr Yodhoyono and being a vehicle for him, post-Presidency, to advance his goals in enhancing the understanding, prosperity and security in the region.

UWA Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson said he believed UWA’s relationship with Indonesia was a two-way relationship.

“We have a lot of facilities and expertise to provide but equally, we have much to learn,” Professor Johnson said.

“Dr Yudhoyono’s investment of a full week in Perth despite his busy schedule speaks volumes about his commitment to the Indonesia-Australia relationship and his determination to build on his legacy of leadership in the region,” Professor Flake said.

The Perth USAsia Centre is an international policy think tank at the University of Western Australia focusing on Australia’s role in the emerging Indo-Pacific region and the Australia–USA–Asia strategic triangle.


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In the Zone 2015: Venture Asia

In the Zone 2015 launches in Singapore

This year, In the Zone travelled to Singapore for its inaugural Venture Asia event, part of In the Zone 2015: Capital ideas for the twenty-first century.

Launching In the Zone 2015 at the headquarters of Google Asia Pacific in the heart of Singapore on 13 April, the University of Western Australia’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson, said Australia was committed to ‘enhancing our thinking, understanding and knowledge about our region, our future and our interdependence’.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said Australia was committed to ‘enhancing our thinking, understanding and knowledge about our region, our future and our interdependence’.

‘In the Zone reminds us that we share the same four-hour time horizon with the Asian region – an area that encompasses sixty per cent of the world’s population; a region that in total has a Gross Domestic Product output of twenty-three trillion dollars, which represents one third of the world economy,’ Professor Johnson said.

‘For Australia and the Asian region to take the lead globally in the energy and minerals sector, we must look outward, not inward, and we must engage with our neighbours.’

Professor Johnson said Singapore’s reputation as a global hub for investment and trade and its expertise in finance and energy trading made it an ideal destination for In the Zone’s first venture into Asia.

The Premier of Western Australia, the Hon Colin Barnett, headlined this international event attended by eighty prominent business, government and academic leaders from the Zone. Moderators and panelists at the half-day forum included Michelle Guthrie, Managing Director of Agencies, Google Asia Pacific, Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of the Australian, Managing Director of Rio Tinto Marine, Bold Baatar, and the Hon Stephen Smith.

Colin Barnett launched Knowledge Society and the University of Western Australia’s State of Mind, a publication and online destination that places the state’s achievements as a world-leading diversified minerals and energy province in a global context and recasts the narrative of Western Australia as a state of ‘mind’.

Discussions will continue at Perth’s In the Zone Leadership Forum on 1 May where His Excellency Professor Doctor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Former President of the Republic of Indonesia, will be a keynote speaker.


UWA hosts Indian Ocean Rim Association Council of Ministers meeting

Foreign Minister Bishop welcomes delegates

On 8 October, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop welcomed foreign ministers from the Indian Ocean region to the University of Western Australia. The University’s Oceans Institute, the Perth USAsia Centre and In the Zone hosted the delegates for a special oration – Ocean Solutions for Humanity’s Grand Challenges – at which Minister Bishop and former Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, addressed the delegation. The focus of the day, which included the exhibition of an underwater ocean glider provided by a National Innovation System research facility, was the safe and sustainable delivery of water, food, energy and bioresources from our oceans.

‘I am delighted to be able to welcome delegates to the electorate of Curtin and to promote the world-class research that the University of Western Australia is undertaking in the blue economy,’ Minister Bishop said.

‘I am delighted … to promote the world-class research that the University of Western Australia is undertaking in the blue economy’ – Minister Bishop

‘As Australia’s Indian Ocean capital, Perth is uniquely situated to shape strategic thinking and encourage stronger relationships in this key region of the world.’

The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), an alliance of twenty member states, promotes cooperation, sustained growth and balanced development in the Indian Ocean region. Australia, the current chair of the IORA, hosted 370 delegates from 26 nations at the fourteenth annual Council of Ministers Meeting (COMM) and related meetings in Perth from 6–8 October 2014. At the Meeting, members signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on search-and-rescue cooperation in the Indian Ocean.


Breakfast Roundtable with Mr David Irvine, Director Security ASIO

In the Zone and the Australian Institute of International Affairs hosted a roundtable breakfast discussion on March 4 with David Irvine, Director-General of Security, in charge of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Domestic Security: A Public Affair

The international context for most contemporary security threats blurs the divide between domestic and foreign security affairs. Australia’s security intelligence agency must think internationally if we are to maintain the safety and security of our citizens at home.

One consequence is that ASIO becomes both a vehicle for and a beneficiary of Australia’s international relationships. A nuanced understanding of the foreign dimensions of terrorism, espionage and cyber-threats is as important for business as it is for government.


About the Speaker

David Irvine, Director-General of Security, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)

Mr Irvine is a career diplomat who joined the Australian Foreign Service in 1970; postings included Rome, Jakarta (twice), Beijing and Port Moresby; High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea (1996-1999); Australian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2000-2003) and Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (2003-2009).

During the five years prior to his appointment in Papua New Guinea, Mr Irvine held several senior management and policy positions in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra, including management of Australia’s relations with the major markets of South, North and East Asia, as well as Indochina.

In March 2009, Mr Irvine was appointed Director-General of Security, in charge of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

About the Australian Institute of International Affairs

The Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) is an independent, non-profit organisation seeking to promote interest in and understanding of international affairs in Australia.

It provides a forum for discussion and debate, but does not seek to formulate its own institutional views. The Institute arranges programs of lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences and other discussions, and sponsors research and publications. The AIIA was formed in 1924 and established as a federal body in 1933 and is the only nation-wide organisation of its kind in Australia.

US engagement in the Asia-Pacific Region

Explaining the US rebalance

Brad Glosserman, Executive Director, Pacific Forum Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

The University of Western Australia’s Perth US Asia Centre and In the Zone initiative hosted visiting speaker Brad Glosserman at a high-level roundtable on 15 August 2013 and masterclass with the University’s Fogarty Foundation scholars the following day. Brad spoke extensively about the US rebalance to Asia, a foreign policy initiative designed to capitalise on the increasing vitality, energy and centrality of the Asian region to world affairs and to underpin a reconfiguration of US power that reflects the changing power dynamics of the world today.

Brad explained the rebalance as an intellectual framework for the US to better engage with the world, a soft diplomacy initiative recognising the rapid increase of non-state actors on the global stage and the need to engage beyond government to government interests with a range of business and civil society partners to solve pressing global problems laterally.

With the traditional tools of statecraft limited in their ability to respond to global challenges, thinking differently about power, ‘expanding the toolbox’ beyond the ‘military hammer’ and engaging more deeply with Asia to collaboratively tackle issues ranging from sustainable development to climate change, pandemics and natural disasters would enable more agile and multi-lateral responses.

Brad also emphasised the importance of bringing diversity to the decision making table through the inclusion of young people and finding ways to tap their abilities and their often unique approaches to problem solving.

The In the Zone initiative works to build linkages and cross-sectoral collaboration to enhance policy making and dialogue on global issues involving governments, businesses and civil society.

Through In the Zone’s Next Generation program, we are also linking senior Asia-focussed thought-leaders with high-calibre students, helping to build the global leaders of a truly Asian Century.

UWA would like to thank the US Consulate in Perth for their support in arranging Brad Glosserman’s visit. More information about the activities of the U.S. Embassy in Carnberra on Facebook and Twitter.

Public Lecture: Churning the seas

India–China strategic competition and what it means for Australia

The University of Western Australia was pleased to partner with The Lowy Institute for International Policy through In the Zone and the Perth USAsia Centre, for a public lecture with eminent India strategist Dr C Raja Mohan on the 24th of June 2013.

Churning the seas: India-China strategic competition and what it means for Australia — Dr C Raja Mohan and Rory Medcalf from Lowy Institute for International on Vimeo.

Ms Elena Douglas, convenor at the Centre for Social Impact introduced US Ambassador Jeffrey L. Bleich, who opened this public lecture and participated during the Panel Discussion. With Lowy Institute colleague Rory Medcalf, Dr Mohan looked at how Australia can help to manage security tensions and maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean and the wider Indo-Pacific region.

Dr C Raja Mohan is one of India’s leading strategic thinkers and commentators. He is Head of Strategic Studies and Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and is visiting Australia as a Nonresident Fellow and guest of the Lowy Institute.

Rory Medcalf is Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute, Associate Director of the Australia India Institute and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

"I am confident that in the coming decades the city of Perth will grow in importance as a centre of business, educational and technological excellence in the region. This State will also continue to develop as the epicentre of a global resource and mineral supply economy delivering the growth that has seen an economic power shift to the Asian and Indian Ocean regions." Michael Chaney
Chancellor, The University of Western Australia