Dr. Didik Suhardi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) of Indonesia, officiated on 26 February 2018 the launching of a collaborative program between MoEC and the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Tropical Biology (BIOTROP) on Non-Seasonal Fruit Production for the Revitalization of Vocational Schools in Indonesia. The program launching was a back-to-back activity with the opening of SEAMEO BIOTROP’s Golden Anniversary celebration at its headquarter in Bogor with the theme “Forging Ahead with Tropical Biology for Environmental and Societal Transformations in Southeast Asia (Tropical BEST-SEA).”
Aside from making the vocational schools greener and beautiful, the said program is expected to increase the nutritional status of students and enhance the schools’ productivity and entrepreneurship. The program will be piloted in 4 vocational schools in Indonesia, namely: SMKN Unggul Negeri 2 Banyuasin, Pangkalan Balai; SMKN 1 Tapin Selatan, Kabupaten Tapin, Kalimantan Selatan; SMKN 4 Bogor; and SMK Lampung.
In his opening address, Dr. Didik Suhardi expressed his confidence and support for SEAMEO BIOTROP to transfer its research capabilities and technologies to help empower schools in their programs and activities such as the development of non-seasonal fruit gardens especially in vocational schools.
"I hope that through this program, SEAMEO BIOTROP can play an active role in the development of knowledge and technology that will make our vocational school graduates become reliable entrepreneurs who could help build the economy of Indonesia,” said Dr. Didik Suhardi.
Fully funded by the MoEC, the program is among SEAMEO BIOTROP’s flagship programs under its 10th Five Year Development Plan (FYDP) which were also launched at the opening of the golden anniversary celebration. As one of the 24 Centres of Excellence of the Southeast Asian Minister of Education Organization (SEAMEO), SEAMEO BIOTROP has been active in advancing tropical biology in Southeast Asia through research, capacity building, information dissemination, and community development activities since its founding in 1968. In its 10th FYDP (2017/2018-2021/2022), SEAMEO BIOTROP envisions itself as a “Leading Centre in enriching and promoting the real values of tropical biology in Southeast Asia.”
SEAMEO BIOTROP Director, Dr. Irdika Mansur, also officially sealed the Centre’s collaboration with four government and private institutions by signing Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Universitas Gunadarma, Politeknik Pertanian Pangkajene Kepulauan, PT Garudafood Putra Putri Jaya, and Masyarakat Ahli Penginderaan Jauh Indonesia (MAPIN). He also awarded plaques of appreciation to former SEAMEO BIOTROP Directors during the celebration in recognition of their valuable contributions to the development of the Centre through the years. The honorees included the late Prof. Otto Soemarwoto (1968-1971), the late Prof. Soeratno Partoatmodjo (1971-1976), the late Prof Ishemat Soerianegara (1977-1985), the late Prof. Sitti Soetarmi Tjitrosomo (1985-1990), the late Dr. Soekotjo (1991-1996), Prof. Sitanala Arsyad (1997-2002), Prof. Handoko (2003-2008), and Prof. Bambang Purwantara (2009-2014).
In addition to the exhibitions featuring goods and services from 30 exhibitors that would run until 28 February 2018, SEAMEO BIOTROP will also hold five talk shows for the general public. The topics for the talk shows are (1) Empowering Schools and Communities for Food Security and Healthy Living, (2) Efforts to Restore Post-Mine Land to Productive Lands and Research Cooperation Opportunities with Universities and Research Institutes, (3) Potentials of Essential Oil Plants and Product Development in Indonesia, and (5) Quality Seed Production to Improve Food Sovereignty. The Centre will also conduct Open House activities to its various facilities, namely: Laboratory of Biotechnology, Remote Sensing, Aquatic, Hydroponics, Herbarium, Entomology, Tissue Culture, Water and Air, Phytopathology and Natural Product, as well as Mushroom Cultivation Unit and Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) for incoming visitors.
Other activities throughout SEAMEO BIOTROP’s 50th anniversary celebration include Agri-based Production Webinar series on 27 February - 22 March 2018, Planting of 1000 Trees consisting of 50 Species on 1 March 2018, Walk for the Environment on the 22 March 2018, Inter-SEAMEO Center Badminton Tournament from 12-13 April 2018, Environmental Camp and Mapping Competition for Students on 20-21 April 2018 and 3rd International Conference on Tropical Biology on 27-28 September 2018.