PT Mitra Asia Lestari
Dr John Ackerman, Director
Can you tell us about PT Mitra Asia Lestari?
PT Mitra Asia Lestari is an agribusiness consulting company that develops and manages research projects for government agencies and industry to advise them on improving efficiencies and developing sustainable business models across multiple areas of the agriculture and fisheries sectors. The company has only been operational for just over four years. Still, with an escalating focus on increasing food production effectively, efficiently delivering it to all people in an affordable manner, our clients and partners are coming to us from around the globe. Our beneficiaries are wide-ranging, from smallholders to large private companies and policymakers to research agencies. I am also happy to note we have been fortunate enough to provide real opportunities to develop networks amongst like-minded researchers and agriculture practitioners. This includes promoting greater involvement for both women and youth in the rural and agriculture sectors through our partnerships with leadership and capacity-building organisations and programs
What is your role about?
Our company’s focus is on producing sound research, sustainable business development, project management and increasing leadership capacity within the agriculture and fisheries sectors. Additionally, we work across a broad range of essential agriculture features, including production, value chains, logistics and transportation, marketing, and trade and investment. Therefore, ensuring we communicate, coordinate, and consult our aims, activities, and results, including both within the project teams and with relevant stakeholders, is essential. Given that we are a small team, but with a broad network of experienced, skilled, and well-respected scientists, policymakers, and industry leaders, effective communication is critical.
In short, I view a large part of my role as ensuring communication is complete. That messages are two-way, that all partners and stakeholders involved in anything we do understand the challenges, the approach, their roles, and the outcomes we are seeking. In this manner, I strive to limit possible risks and issues, reduce confusion, eliminate surprises for all involved, and make programs less likely to fail. This communicative approach has also meant I am often brought into activities struggling to achieve their goals and are running into insurmountable problems. The need for good communication can never be underestimated. Often, issues that arise well into a program can be because of a lack of understanding and clarity in the first place.
With partners in Indonesia, Australia and around the globe, I spend a lot of time advising them of variable and appropriate approaches to advance their objectives in Indonesia to benefit all parties involved.
What is the current issue / hot topic in your industry?
There are, without doubt, multiple issues within the agriculture sector. Notwithstanding the increasing age of our farmers, challenges include improving productivity and yields without increasing price, reducing carbon footprints and environmental damage, expanding food production systems sustainably, the increasing numbers of humans, improving supply chain efficiencies, reducing cost, limiting waste, improving quality and food safety, equal access to finance, and providing relevant and easy access to information regarding fees, safety, nutrition, and quality. One emphasis placed on agriculture presently is the improved use of technological innovation to improve all the above. These include developing innovative farming systems, digital communication networks and financial services, digital ledgers for recording movement and transactions of goods, and e-commerce. The opportunities are endless. However, affordability and access to these will be necessary. But one encouraging aspect, with the increasing interest in technological innovation in agriculture, is that it may see a reversal of young people leaving the agriculture sector, providing them with interest to become involved in food production.
Why are you an IABC Member?
The IABC has always been an organisation focused on networking with like-minded people and their companies in a friendly and informal setting. The monthly networking events, bi-annual conference, and impromptu events have always provided a relaxed, fun atmosphere, genuinely providing a chance to meet people and make real friendships. Some of my closest colleagues, Indonesian and Australian, were met through the various IABC events. It’s also allowed me to engage with some truly talented people from all walks of life, with far different interests than mine. It also provides an excellent mechanism to remain informed. The ability to meet and talk with people with multiple and diverse perspectives and interests allows for a much broader understanding of Indonesia and Australia's challenges and progress.
While the advent of more online events has become the norm lately, I am very much looking forward to resuming attending in-person events and renewing face-to-face contact with friends and colleagues in the IABC when the appropriate time arrives.
With COVID creating such disruption and misfortune for so many, what are you looking forward to in the future?
I would have to say meeting family and friends in person again. Getting on a plane has never been something I look forward to, but rather as something of a necessity if I want to travel for work or pleasure. However, I am, for the first time, looking forward to getting on a plane. My wife and I are extremely keen to visit our parents. Something we have not been able to do with the pandemic as it is. I am also eager to continue travelling around Indonesia again and visiting our project sites, listening to farmers, and learning about methods and innovations for improving food production and its distribution to people.
I am also looking forward to being able to host events again. Multiple workshops, capacity building programs and networking events were postponed with the spread of the pandemic, including, of course, the IABC monthly networking events.
Thank you John!
PT Mitra Asia Lestari
Office 8 level 18-A, Sudirman Central Business District (SCBD) 12190 Jakarta, Indonesia
P: +62 21 71791883
F: +62 21 71791883