IPNI Southeast Asia Program - WHO we are; WHAT we do

International Plant Nutrition Institute
The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) is a not-for-profit, scientific organization dedicated to responsible management of plant nutrients for the benefit of the human family. With established programs in Latin America, North America, China, India, Oceania, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia and Africa, IPNI is a global organization ready to respond to the world’s demand for food, fuel, feed, and fiber. IPNI provides a unified, scientific voice for the world’s fertilizer industry: credible and recognized by governments, academia, NGOs, the public, and the industry. Its scientists work towards defining the basis for appropriate use and management of plant nutrients, focusing also on the environmental and economic issues related to their use; providing comprehensive and regional information to help farmers and the industry deal with environmental and agronomic problems.

The Southeast Asia Program of IPNI
The Southeast Asia Program of IPNI (IPNI SEAP) has a long-standing record of integrity in agronomic research and training programs since its beginning as a representative office of the International Potash Institute in 1974. The Southeast Asia representative office first operated as a joint mission of The Potash & Phosphate Institute/Potash & Phosphate Institute of Canada (PPI/PPIC) and the International Potash Institute (IPI) before it became a program of the new IPNI in 2007. More information about IPNI is available at http://seap.ipni.net.

The Southeast Asian countries with which IPNI has had, is having or may have research and development engagements include Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea. The region has a total population of greater than 600 million, of which Indonesia alone has about 250 million inhabitants. Over the past decade, there has been substantial rural to urban migration; however, the rural population is still greater than the urban population in most of the region and agriculture continues to be an important feature of the economies of all countries in the region.

Historically, crop production has increased through expansion into new land; however, little land is available for future expansion. Nevertheless, there are areas of degraded and/or deforested land or currently non-productive lands that could be cropped and made more productive. Furthermore, the labor force in agriculture will likely decline due to the ageing of the population and the increasing attractiveness of other economic sectors and the further expansion of urban environments. Increasing labor productivity is essential if agricultural workers are to obtain a reasonable standard of living. Labor productivity is generally greater in more intense production systems. The changing social conditions of the region will require higher labor productivity based on intensification of production systems that will become increasingly mechanized in key commodities in the coming decades.

This suggests that there is a major opportunity to intensify production and increase land productivity in existing cropping systems or in currently degraded lands through improved management, including better plant nutrition coupled with superior genotypes. FAO estimates that fertilizer accounts for about 50% of historical increases in food production. IPNI SEAP has documented in recent years in several key commodities of Southeast Asia, the importance of adequate crop nutrition for sustainable yield increases.

In order to meet the needs for intensification of agriculture, the overall goal of IPNI SEAP is to intensify agricultural production in the region through improved management practices with emphasis on enhanced plant nutrition using the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Concept as the guiding framework and as an essential component of highly productive agricultural systems. The core of this approach is application of the right source of plant nutrients at the right rate, the right time, and in the right place. The four “Rs” or “rights” of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship are essential in the management of plant nutrition to increase the efficiency of plant nutrient use and sustainability of crop production systems. Various ongoing field and market development projects of IPNI SEAP are demonstrating the environmental and economic value of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Concept.

IPNI SEAP is well-positioned in the region, through collaborative projects with the industry, and other research and development organizations, to develop and disseminate management approaches to increase productivity based on the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Concept. Such collaborative projects include research in field experiments, production of books, publications and dissemination materials, research for fertilizer market development, as well as software development. Through these projects, we generate essential information for growers that helps them to achieve increased profitability, food security and environmental sustainability through appropriate use of plant nutrients and other management practices, in response to the socio-economic changes in the region.

Projects in the Region and Partnerships
The Southeast Asia Program of IPNI has a strong focus on key crops in the region and currently supports different collaborative activities in relation to oil palm in Indonesia and Malaysia. In recent years, we have significantly expanded our oil palm project portfolio. It now includes work on Best Management Practices (BMP) in mature palms, and also in oil palm nurseries and immature palms. We also run a project that investigates fertilizer recovery efficiency in degraded, light textured soils in Kalimantan. This innovative project develops concrete approaches to implement the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Concept in mature oil palms. Another project develops methods to analyze routinely-collected production information in oil palm plantations with the aim to generate systems management indicators that help operators improve plantation performance. The approach developed by this project, aptly named “Plantation Intelligence®”, has generated strong interest in the oil palm industry, as it will allow effective benchmarking, followed by systematic improvement of production performance. Today the approach is further expanded with methods for estate-scale experimentation that allow producers to research and change management practices directly and immediately within commercial plantation operations.

We also continue to implement and expand exciting new project partnerships with cocoa growers in Sulawesi, Indonesia, jointly with Cocoa Care. Cocoa Care is a program that leverages existing cocoa industry capabilities both within the farming community and with industry stakeholders to help cocoa farming families overcome current difficulties and get them onto a solid path toward economic sustainability. This project works with farming families in Soppeng, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, and together with them quantifies the effectiveness of balanced fertilizer applications to increase cocoa farm productivity, improve cocoa bean quality and increase cocoa farm income in a typical Indonesian small-holder cocoa farming system. The concept of 4R Nutrient Stewardship is used to implement the nutrition program alongside general good agricultural practices. We are now in the process to further expand the approach into new production origins such as the Philippines.

In Myanmar, we are developing and implementing a research and market development program that socializes the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Concept widely amongst policy makers and agricultural practitioners alike. This initiative is being established with our member company, Canpotex and its partners in Myanmar.

Furthermore, we work on white corn and cassava in the Philippines together with partners of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. IPNI SEAP is further investigating the possibility of expanding its work to Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

All our projects are aimed at generating information that enables strategic decision-making by our partners in the industry and in the policy arena, which ultimately leads to sustainable intensification of key cropping systems in the region.

More about: Popular Articles