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Australasian Biotechnology (backfiles)
ISSN: 1036-7128
Vol. 10, Num. 4, 2000, pp. 30-32
Untitled Document

Australasian Biotechnology, Vol. 10 No. 4, 2000, pp. 30-32



E. Gumbira-Sa’id

Code Number: au00046

The world’s fourth largest country in population (about 207 million people), Indonesia is divided administratively into 26 provinces and further subdivided into 245 regencies, 65 municipalities, 4000 sub-districts and about 67,900 villages.

Indonesia is a maritime country, covering a total area of about 9.8 million square kilometres. It comprises of a sea area of 7.9 million square kilometres (including Exclusive Economic Zone) or 81% of the total area, and a land area of about 1.9 million square kilometres. In total, Indonesia has about 14 000 islands, in which only about 6000 islands are inhabited.


Since 1985, the Indonesian Government, through the Ministry of State for Research and Technology, has actually declared biotechnology a priority area for national development. This decision to recognise biotechnology as a priority for national development was further promoted after the recent economic crisis, and partly based on Indonesia’s unfortunate experiences with other technological applications, especially air and space technology, and other footloose industries in the past.

Therefore, the development of biotechnology in Indonesia, as part of the social economic development, is directed through the following targets (Loedin, 1991; Habibie, 1997):

  • the development of bio-industries for producing goods and services for human welfare to support national economic development.
  • the development of research centres able to carry out advanced biotechnology research and development to support bio-industries in maintaining and improving their capability of producing goods to fulfill the needs of the competitive market.
  • the development of educational institutions to produce the necessary expertise at various levels in biotechnology to support the development of technical sectors especially agriculture and research and development institutions.
  • the development of effective and efficient cooperative networks for biotechnology institutions at national level.

The national policy framework classifies Indonesian biotechnology research and development institutes, centres and units as outlined below. Some major parts have also been reported by Sasson (1993).

  • Production research units focusing on the application of biotechnologies to industries with large scale production (e.g. Central Sugar Research Institute);
  • research application units in Oil Palm Research Institute and scaling up biotechnologies from the laboratory to the pilot plant (e.g. Agency for Health Research and Development Ministry of Health; Agency for Agricultural Research and Development - Ministry of Agriculture; Research Agency of Department of Energy and Mining; and Agency for the Assessment and the Application of Technology, BPPT);
  • research development units developing laboratory scale biotechnologies (e.g. Centre for the Development of Science and Technology PUSPIPTEK, at Serpong, near Jakarta; Research and Development Centre for Biotechnology of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences in Cibinong, Bogor);
  • basic research unit focusing on the development of basic sciences and supporting the other units (e.g. Research and Development Centre for Biology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, University Research Institutes, etc.).

Such a classification was partly superseded by the establishment of the National Centre of Excellence for the development and coordination of activities relating to basic research, research development and applications. Research and development network in biotechnology is coordinated and supported by the Ministry of State for Research and Technology.

The Agency for Assessment and the Application of Technology (BPPT) was established as a non-ministerial organisation. It has a specific interest in bio-industry such as the production of chemicals (ethanol, amino acids, enzymes), pharmaceuticals (antibiotics and vitamins), single-cell protein (microbial protein biomass) feeds, and plant seedlings.

The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has the following centres involved in biotechnological activities:

  • the research and Development Centre for Biotechnology, Bogor, as a centre particularly involved in the conservation and utilization of genetic resources, benefiting from links with private companies;
  • the Research and Development Centre for Applied Chemistry (PPPKT-RDCAC/LIPI), Bandung.

The Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (AARD) Ministry of Agriculture) has several institutions involved in biotechnology research and development as listed below:

  • Central Research Institute for Food Crops, Bogor;
  • Central Research Institute for Plantation (Estate) Crops, Bogor and Marihat, Medan;
  • Central Research Institute for Industrial Crops, Bogor;
  • Indonesian Sugar Research Institute, Pasuruan;
  • Research institute for Animal Production, Ciawi, Bogor;
  • Research institute for Animal Diseases (Balitvet), Bogor;
  • Central Research Institute for Freshwater Fisheries, Jakarta.

The National Centre for Agricultural Biotechnology, established under the direction of the Central Research Institute for Food Crops (BORIF), Bogor, was opened in 1990. This centre was nominated by the Ministry of State for Research and Technology as one of the three National Centres of Excellence in biotechnologies, along with that for industrial biotechnology at the Bandung Institute of Technology, and that for medical biotechnology at the Department of Microbiology of the Medical Faculty of the University of Indonesia, Jakarta. The later centre was expected to assess, develop and apply medical biotechnologies for improving health services and facilitating further development of medical bioindustry in Indonesia. It would functions as the focal point of a medical biotechnology collaborative network, and as an education and training laboratory; as well as for diagnostic reagents and vaccines production centre. This institution was further strengthened by the existence of the Eijkman Institute specialising in the human medical research activities under the chairmanship of Professor Sangkot Marzuki.

These three National Centres of Excellence have been expected to take the lead within the National Biotechnology Program, both in conducting and coordinating research and development. In addition to the above institutions, three Inter-University Centres (IUCs) on biotechnology were established in 1985 as part of the university network of the development of education as follows:

  • The IUC for Agricultural Biotechnology, at the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), Bogor;
  • The IUC for Industrial Biotechnology, at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Bogor;
  • The IUC for Medical Biotechnology, at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta.

The IUCs helped to train the scientists and technicians required nationally for research and development programs. They also run post-graduate degree programs and conducted focused research while seeking links with private industries.


To strengthen the biotechnological activities and to optimize networkings, the three Inter-University Centers for biotechnology (IPB, ITB, UGM) established a foundation called the Indonesian Biotechnology Consortium (IBC) on October 14, 1994. The secretariat of IBC is located at Jl. Puspa, Kampus IPB Dermaga, Bogor. The objectives of the Indonesian Biotechnology Consortium are as follows:

  1. to assemble institutions or government agencies and/or private companies/non-governmental organisations having activities in the field of biotechnology;
  2. to establish and to maintain contact for collaboration with institutions having activities in the field of biotechnology and related fields, both nationally and internationally;
  3. to support the Indonesian government in the development of biotechnology in Indonesia.

To achieve the above activities, the Indonesian Biotechnology Consortium carries out the following programs:

  1. coordinating joint research and collaboration among members of IBC and other research institutions, private companies, and non-governmental organisations;
  2. applying and disseminating the results of research and development through training, scientific meetings, scientific publications, and technical consultations both at national and international levels;
  3. assisting the Indonesian government by providing inputs/ concepts for the development of education and research policies in the field of biotechnology.

The Indonesian Biotechnology Consortium has 29 members, in which 20 of them are listed below. The remaining nine institutions have joined the IBC recently.

  1. Inter-University Center for Biotechnology, Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor.
  2. Inter-University Center for Biotechnology, Bandung Institute of Technology, Bandung.
  3. Inter-University Center for Biotechnology, University of Gajah Mada, Yogyakarta.
  4. Research and Development Center for Applied Chemistry, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Bandung and Serpong.
  5. Research and Development Center for Biotechnology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Cibinong, Bogor.
  6. Research Institute for Food Crops Biotechnology (RIFCB), Bogor.
  7. Center for Agricultural Biotechnology, University of Muhammadiyah Malang/ UMM, Malang.
  8. Center for the Assessment and Application of Industrial and Agricultural Biotechnology, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology, Jakarta.
  9. Indonesian Rubber Research Institute, Bogor and Palembang
  10. Biotechnology Research Unit for Estate Crops, Bogor.
  11. Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute (IOPRI), Medan.
  12. PT. Buminusantara Bestariperkasa
  13. PT. Intidaya Agrolestari (PT. Inagro), Bogor.
  14. Study Center for Bio-Techno-Engineering (Bioteen), Indonesia Institute of Technology, Serpong.
  15. Technical Research Unit Ethanol, Single Cell Protein and Sugar, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology, Lampung.
  16. Department of Applied Microbiology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Indonesia, Jakarta.
  17. PT. Hilab Sciencetama.
  18. Research Centre of Brawijaya University, Biology Cell and Molecular Biology Unit, Malang.
  19. Central Research Institute for Horticulture (Puslitbang Hortikultura), Jakarta.
  20. Food and Nutrition Research Center - Gajah Mada University.


Biotechnology research and development activities are conducted by all research institutes as explained before. All these activities were connected to the supreme research schemes that were funded by the National Research Council (DRN), the Agency for National Coordination and Development (BAPPENAS), and the Department of Culture and Education. The supreme research schemes consist of:

  • Integrated Supreme Research (RUT) started in 1992. It constitutes research grants for research activities which involve human resources and research facilities at some research institutes and universities.
  • National Supreme Research (RUSNAS) is the mechanism for conducting the superiority and networking of biotechnology.
  • Partnership Supreme Research (RUK) started in 1995. It is the mechanism for alleviating risk level in industrial research activities. The research incentives are given as matching grants.

Among the research activities in biotechnology carried out at all research institutes in 1999, which are the results of RUT, are:

  • prime seed of hybrid corn, soybean, banana, potato, and cassava;
  • high-yielding varieties of paddy soy bean, and mung bean;
  • non collagen protease and microbial genetic engineering at leather processing technology;
  • soy bean genetic transformation as transgenic plant;
  • banana germplasm collection and conservation for genetic engineering;
  • extracellular polysaccharid production from tapioca waste;
  • vaccine production for livestock.

Some topics in the following fields have also been studied:

  1. Cell breeding and plant tissue culture, such as:

    - the development of new clones;

    - the development of disease-free plants; and

    - the development of hybrid plants with embryo breeding technique and cell fusion.

The plants selected are for food, plantation, horticulture, forestry, and other plants of high sales value.

  1. Embryo transfer techniques and super ovulation, embryo fusion (twinning), and low-temperature preservation for animal husbandry. The animals selected are cattle, sheep, buffaloes and pigs.
  2. Diagnostic techniques, using monoclonal antibodies, for early detection of plant and animal diseases caused by virus, bacteria or fungi that are difficult to detect by conventional methods.
  3. Inoculations of legumes with an effective rhizobium for the improvement and development of methods for producing innoculants; also, utilization of micro-organics to accelerate the growth of plants by means of screening, production and genetic engineering.
  4. The developments of bio-industries for degrading biological waste or byproducts.

Food and Industrial biotechnology

Two research institutes at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) were focusing on both agricultural and pharmaceutical products with a high benefit. At the Research and Development Centre for Biotechnology, in Bogor, activities include fermentation, microbial innoculants, nitrogen fixation, tissue and cell culture.

Solid or liquid fermentations, which have been used in Indonesia for centuries, produces tempe, soy sauce and tauco (soybeans), oncom (pressed groundnut cake) and tape (cassava or glutinous rice), mostly at the household or small-scale manufacturing level. Medium and large-scale industries are applying conventional biotechnologies including: ethanol distilleries using molasses; breweries; citric acid plants using solid cassava waste as a substrate; and monosodium glutamate production from molasses. Although these industries were characterised by higher investment, higher benefit and levels of skills, there are no industries yet in Indonesia relying on advanced biotechnology. Efforts are being made to improve the traditional fermentation processes through the standardization of raw materials, isolation and characterisation of inoculums and study of factors influencing fermentation. Some pilot plant scale development facilities exist at the Food Technology Development Centre in Bogor Agricultural University and at the Bandung Institute of Technology. Appendix 1 (which will be published in our October issue, due to space limitations) lists some major institutions working with biotechnological activities in Indonesia.


  • Anon. (2000). Indonesian Biotechnology Consortium (leaflet). Bogor.
  • BPPT. (1998). Brookerage Event on Agro and Biotechnology The Netherlands Indonesia on December 16-17. Jakarta.
  • Cohen, J.I. (1999). Managing Agricultural Biotechnology. CABI Publishing. Netherlands.
  • Directorate of Economic Research and Monetary Policy. (2000). Monthly Report: Review on Economy, Monetary, and Banking. Bank Indonesia. Jakarta.
  • Djatin, J., U. Budihardjo, S. Iswanti. (1999). Technology Offers: Integrated Research Supreme. KMNRT - LIPI. Jakarta.
  • Habibie, J.E. (1997). Government Policy on Research. KMNRT. Jakarta.
  • Loedin, A.A. (1991). Public Policies to Promote National Capabilities in Biotechnology. In Biotechnology for Asian Agriculture: Public Policy Implications. I.P. Getubig; V.L. Chopra; M.S. Swaminathan (eds.). Asian and Pacific Development Centre. Kuala Lumpur.
  • Sasson, A. (1993). Biotechnologies in Developing Countries: Present and Future. Volume 1: Regional and National Survey. Unesco Publishing. Paris.


This work is a compilation of several published and unpublished materials dealing with Indonesian biotechnology. I would like to thank Dr. Khaswar Syamsu (IUC Biotechnology, IPB), Mr. Basuki (Biotechnology Unit of AP2I), and Ms. Rachmayanti (MMA - IPB) for their valuable material.



The Indonesian economy suffered negative growth in 1998 due to the financial and monetary crisis which began in mid-1997. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current market price in 1998 was estimated at 989,573.1 billion rupiah which was higher than GDP of the previous year (625,505.9 billion rupiahs). There was an absolute increase in 1998 around 364,067.2 billion rupiahs. However, based on 1993 constant market prices the value of GDP in 1998 was approximately 14 per cent lower than 1997, namely 374,718.7 billion rupiahs compared to 434,095.5 billion rupiahs in 1997 (In May 21, 2000, one Australian dollar is about 4750 rupiahs).

All sectors show a negative growth in 1998 except the agricultural sector which increased 0.26 per cent, a smaller growth rate than 1997. The lower growth in 1998 was due to the decrease in the production of livestock and livestock products (6.4 per cent) followed by Food Crops (1.0 per cent). Counter-balancing some decreases, the non-food crops subsector grew 6.0 percent and fisheries grew 4.1 per cent.

Since 1991 up to 1998, the manufacturing industry sector was the major contributor to total GDP. In 1998, at current market prices, the contribution of manufacturing industry sector to GDP was 26.2 per cent followed by agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries sector (18.8 per cent); trade, hotels and restaurants sector (14.9 per cent), and mining and quarrying (12.9 per cent). Of the nine industrial groups, the electricity, gas and water supply sector has the lowest contribution to GDP, namely only 1.2 per cent.


Copyright 2000 - Australiasian Biotechnology

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