Research has started into the alternative use of agricultural crops

13 November 2009

Together with their Indonesian partners, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) have completed the selection procedure of the new 'Agriculture beyond Food' research programme.

This five-year scientific programme will investigate the possibilities and limitations of bio-based products.

he selection committee has chosen three complementary research proposals (see below for the selected proposals) from eight applications from Indonesian - Netherlands research consortia. The proposals target socio-economic, legal, geographical, anthropological and technological aspects of the production of vegetable oil for bio diesel and other crop-based products from Jatropha curcas and oil palm. Use of land, the displacement of the local population and possible new means of existence for rural communities are key aspects on the research agenda. The coordinator is Wageningen University and Research Center. Researchers from Groningen, Utrecht, Leiden, Wageningen, Twente and Indonesia will be taking part. This integrated approach is essential and is a characteristic of the programme. The assignment involves EUR 2.5 million.
>The 'Agriculture beyond Food' research programme has been launched on 18 November 2009 with a three-day masterclass at Wageningen University. The masterclass will highlight the future possibilities of biomass from various angles. For instance, participants will be given a broad overview of various aspects of 'Agriculture beyond Food'. This will help them to form opinions and adopt positions in the scientific and social debate on 'Agriculture beyond Food'.

Future for biomass

There is an increasing worldwide demand for biomass for use as fuel or for other products. This has resulted in a debate about the extent to which this poses a threat in terms of sustainability and the food security. At the same time, this opens up exciting new opportunities for the agricultural sector. Scientific insights into the possibilities and limitations are necessary to predict the future of an agricultural sector 'beyond food'. This is the background against which the NWO and KNAW have set up the 'Agriculture beyond Food' research programme. The direction for the future of bio-energy crops must become clear.
>The programme is in line with the Dutch government's strategy to support countries that are particularly suitable for the production of biomass. Indonesia is one of those countries. The Netherlands is aiming to fulfil a key role in sustainable biomass production and to develop the bio-refinery concept. Indonesia wishes to exploit the collaborative venture to seize the opportunities offered by bio-energy and bio-materials, particularly in relation to employment prospects. In the long term, KNAW and NWO wish to expand 'Agriculture beyond Food' by involving new stakeholders and companies in the programme with the support of SenterNovem and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Selected proposals

The selected proposals are called:

  1. Sliding from greasy land? Migration flows and forest transformation caused by oil palm expansion in Riau (Sumatra) & Berau (East Kalimantan)
    >Applicants: Utrecht University and Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta, in collaboration with Bogor Agricultural University and Mulawarman University Samarinda. <li>
  2. Breakthroughs in biofuels; Mobile Technology for Biodiesel Production from Indonesian Resources
    >Applicants: University of Groningen and Bandung Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Wageningen University and Research Center, Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta, University of Twente, University of Palangkaraya. <li>
  3. JARAK: The commoditization of an alternative biofuel crop in Indonesia
    ><em>Applicants: University of Leiden and Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta, in collaboration with the University of Indonesia, Wageningen University and Research Center, the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, Parahyangan University Bandung, Mulawarman University Samarinda, International Institute of Asian Studies Leiden, Bogor Agricultural University.

For the editors

For more information about the 'Agriculture beyond Food' research programme, go to the programme webpage Open Science Meeting
>You can also contact Annemarie Zegers, KNAW Communication Department, e-mail, telephone: +31 (0)20-551 0820,
>or NWO, Information and Communication department, e-mail<a>, telephone: +31 (0)70-344 0713

About the KNAW

As the forum, conscience, and voice of the arts and sciences in the Netherlands, the KNAW promotes the quality and represents the interests of scientific and scholarly work and strives to ensure that Dutch scholars and scientists make the best possible contribution to the cultural, social, and economic development of Dutch society. As an umbrella organisation, the KNAW manages outstanding research institutes and their collections and encourages interdisciplinary cooperation and the exchange of knowledge. 'Agriculture beyond Food' is one of the activities of the Scientific Programme Indonesia - Netherlands of the KNAW See also the KNAW website.

About the NWO

Innovation and quality: these are the NWO's priorities as it works to build the future of science in the Netherlands. The NWO supports thousands of top researchers at universities and institutes and steers the course of Dutch science through its funding and research programmes. The NWO works with scientists, national and international scientific organisations and businesses to develop research programmes of excellent quality. 'Agriculture beyond Food' is one of the activities within the NWO Sustainable Earth theme See also the NWO website.