Musdhalifah Machmud, Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, Indonesia

By Nurfilzah Rohaidi

Women in GovTech Special Report 2017.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2017?

We work on food and agriculture production, and we promote smallholders much better than before. We have already started to do palm oil crop re-planting this year; to do this is not easy but we're starting now. We propose that we will do more in 2018, but it is good to have that start and support re-planting this year. That is exciting for me, to do something for the smallholders.

In 2018, I hope that I can accommodate feedback from our shareholders and that we can produce better policies that will encourage the smallholders in food and agriculture.

What technology particularly interests you for 2018?

I'd like to have technology that can map all of the utilisation of land in agriculture and food plantation. So I can view ownership of smallholders, whether for plantations or estate crops, paddy fields or horticulture.

I am also interested in technology for having good traceability of commodities and supply chains - the ability to follow animals, plants, food products and agricultural input from one point in the supply chain to another. It is already being done in other sectors, but I would like to have this scheme. I would like to have have all of the data about the cycle of the commodity or the ownership, and the mapping of utilisation of land for all smallholders which produce agriculture or food products.

What were some lessons you learned in 2017?

One thing that we can make sure is that the development of Indonesia is very much dependent on smallholders. To encourage the smallholder development, it needs much more detailed intervention, information and communication with them. Step by step we can understand what they need and also we know how we can develop and assist them to encourage them to develop themselves. This doesn’t mean that the government has to drive or order that they have to do this, but they know what to do. We should have more knowledge or communication with them. The good policy for them can be we can work together with them.

What was the greatest challenge that you overcame in 2017?

As part of the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, the big challenge for me is how to accommodate the interests of all our shareholders and to produce the best solution. It may not be a perfect solution, but at least there is impact.

What book did you read in 2017 that most interested or inspired you?

It's a big challenge to mention just one book. I always take the time to read everything including the information coming from all our shareholders. I read specific ones when I need to increase my knowledge about something. As a coordinating ministry I should know everything. That’s why sometimes I have to read something that I didn’t know before, but I have to know now.

Who inspired you in 2017, and why?

My minister, Darmin Nasution. He inspired me a lot because he is a very keen and analytical person. I’m trying to do my best that I have to. If we produce something, we have to know what we did, the possible impact of this policy. He knows everything, tries to understand whatever policy we create. It means I have to have more information than he has in terms of my responsibility.

He most inspires me because he has the willingness to know everything. He will analyse all of the information we give to him. It makes me more inspired that we have to be extremely focused in our policies and what we do.