Tim D. Davisa and Purwiyatno Hariyadib
a Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and Department of Horticultural Sciences, Room, Texas A&M University.
b Southeast Asian Food and Agricultural Science and Technology (SEAFAST) Center, Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor, Indonesia
Indonesia is one of the most populated countries in the world and is rich in plant biodiversity. The country’s hot humid climate is conducive to the production of many tropical horticultural crops. There are many plant species indigenous to Indonesia that have potential as horticultural crops but which have not been fully evaluated and therefore remain underused. Many of these plants have market potential and may have value for human health and nutrition. Furthermore, horticulture has been identified as one of the priority areas for collaboration between U.S. and Indonesian universities and for Indonesian agricultural development. Accordingly, we are presently working with three Indonesian universities to facilitate agricultural development related to horticulture by: 1) strengthening their curriculum related to plant biodiversity; 2) conducting research aimed at identifying bioactive compounds in underused plants that may have benefit to human health; 3) establishing university-led outreach education programs that lead to a better understanding of plant biodiversity and use; and 4) fostering enterprise based on underused Indonesian plant species. Other untapped agricultural research and development opportunities exist in the postharvest handling of tropical fruits and vegetables. Overall, the climate for collaboration between U.S. and Indonesian academic institutions is quite favorable from both a political and a scientific perspective.