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Winrock International

JDR3 Scholars: The Journey Forward

“Winrock’s approach is different. You gave me the experience. You helped us achieve our goal.” - Dr. Armi Susandi

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research?
My name is Dr. Armi Susandi from the Bandung Institute of Technology’s Department of Meteorology. In 2010, I got support from Winrock International to conduct a research study to develop a rainfall model that would provide extension agents and farmers with detailed information on rice planting times and yields. We wanted to help smallholder farmers develop more effective planting calendars.

For the JDR3 study, we successfully developed and patented a climate model that benefited more than three million farmers. We used the information system in the model for 16 crops. The farmers in eastern Indonesia got double benefits after they started using our information system results. They used to make $400 per hectare. Now they get $800 per hectare as a result of our research.

For our product we received buy-in from a private company to help maintain the planting calendar in Papua. A palm oil company is using our information system for weather predictions to manage the water system in their fields.

Since 2010, we have gotten a lot of funding as a result of our research, including four partners from Indonesia, three research grants from higher education institutions in Indonesia, and grants from international sources, including Swansea University, the Nawton fund in Europe, and two partners in Canada. This funding increases the capacity of our information system to support the farmers.

2. What are your best memories from conducting the research?
When we started the project, Winrock arranged for us to work with Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture, which made sure that our research and implementation went smoothly. We communicated our research findings to the Ministry.

We also did a study tour in the U.S., where we met experts at Stanford University and the University of California at Davis. I used the knowledge gained from the trip to directly improve our model. No other donor gave me such a chance and pushed me to achieve goals, not just for the research but also for the stakeholders and the people. I’m lucky to get this help from Winrock.

3. How do you think the JDR3 research study helped you with your research skills?
The program made my research skills better. We had a positive perspective from the JDR3 program, that you don’t have to be alone to do the research. We had research activities to achieve our goals. I’m happy we could work both with the government and with farmers. I think this was the key point. Also, we had a study tour to the U.S., which showed us that a modern country has developed a similar program. Some professors gave me support. They came to Indonesia and made us more confident in our research. It’s a combination of research and field work to make sure the program succeeds. It’s different. It made me more skilled.

4. How do you think the JDR3 experience helped you communicate your research studies to policymakers? Have you utilized these skills after the completion of the JDR3 study?
This is very important. In our program, the policymakers were included in the team. Our policymaker in the Ministry of Ag pushed me to make better results for the JDR program. This is the first time the Ministry has supported me in this way. We are still working with policymakers at the international, district and local levels. We have more than 20 district levels that benefited from our JDR program. They used our system and modeling to maintain the planting calendar.

5. Have you been able to secure more funding for your research (in this area or other related areas) after the JDR3 study? How many publications (i.e. books, peer-reviewed papers) have you published after the JDR3 study in this area of research and other topics?
The Ministry of Higher Education has given us funding to implement our project in some districts in Indonesia. And some NGOs gave us money to implement our research in East Indonesia. We have published in about 20 publications. I have eight people working with me.

6. How would your life have been different without the JDR3 research experience?
I have publications. I have a good model. I can access many stakeholders, especially from the Ministry of Agriculture and agencies. I get profits because I get more money for my research from NGOs and private companies. That’s a double benefit from me.

7. Do you have any suggestions/recommendations for future JDR3 researchers and/or the JDR3 management team/Winrock?
I suggest conducting a workshop to discuss the results of each program. We can share what we have achieved and can receive feedback. If I hadn’t done the JDR research study, I don’t think my career would be good right now. Winrock’s approach is different. You gave me the experience. You helped us achieve our goal. I think we need to share our experiences with other researchers. Thanks again to JDR3 for giving me experiences and opportunity.

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