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A Long History of Working Together Bears Fruit

by Jake Fettig, Country Leader, Indonesia

 

When you’re seeking to transform communities, selecting the right partners is crucial. So, when it was determined last summer that we would be transitioning away from our partnership with the SunRei Food Products social enterprise, it became clear we had an important task ahead. A colleague had previously encouraged us to take every interaction seriously and view every relationship as a potential partner. That wise advice is beginning to reap benefits, and we are excited to share that we have developed a “new” partnership with Indonesia’s Institute for Agricultural Instrument Standardization (BSIP). BSIP’s task – to increase the competitiveness of Indonesian farmers through effective development and implementation of agricultural standards - meshes well with REI’s mission in Indonesia - to build up Indonesians to build Indonesia. 

 

Truthfully, BSIP is not really a new partner at all. REI (Indonesia) previously partnered with this Institute from the years 2002-2012 (then known as the Institute for Agricultural Research and Development). Even as those contracts ended, REI staff continued to work with BSIP staff in an informal capacity as they developed technologies and sourced raw material for the SunRei dried fruit business. It was through these relationships with BSIP that I connected to people in West Sulawesi for my work with the Loka Pere banana, and partners from the regional BSIP office were instrumental in facilitating and overseeing that research.  

 

Jake signing a collaboration agreement with CSCSF

Meanwhile, while I was studying for my master’s degree in Malang, two of my classmates happened to be employees with BSIP. This past June, one of these friends, “Bernie,” invited me to visit BSIP’s Center for Standardization of Citrus and Subtropical Fruits (CSCSF). It turns out, the woman who oversaw the regional BSIP office in West Sulawesi during my research there now oversees CSCSF. Because of her familiarity with our work, she encouraged her team to help facilitate a partnership between BSIP and REI.

 

This 20+ year history and healthy working relationships proved invaluable as we approached BSIP about formally partnering together again. Coincidentally, at the same time as our initial partnership discussions were ongoing, BSIP announced a new strategic program in which they aimed to partner with international organizations to improve the competitiveness of Indonesian farmers. All of this culminated in our singing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between REI and BSIP in November. Under the terms of this MoU, we are enabled to develop project agreements with any of the dozens of BSIP offices around the country, opening doors for REI personnel to make contributions in marginalized regions of Indonesia.

 

The first of these agreements became a reality in January when we signed an agreement with CSCSF. We are in the process of planning projects to develop and implement standards related to cultivation technologies, the utilization of citrus fruit waste, pest and disease management for subtropical fruits, and fruit storage. Our friends at the BSIP office in West Sulawesi are also eager to begin developing projects to continue our partnership together in that region.


Jake with national farmers in West Sulawesi

As we look back on the 25-year history of REI’s work in Indonesia and at our five years of experience here, we are encouraged by the success REI has had partnering with different institutions and amazed at the way these partnerships have developed. We hope this renewed partnership will carry on the REI (Indonesia) legacy of impacting the livelihoods of the poorest of the poor. It is amazing what can happen when you view everyone as a potential partner.

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