Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Australias Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, has launched an alumni network for students who have completed their training under the Indonesia-Australia Pastoral Industry Student Programme,

Minister Joyce said Australia understands the high importance that Indonesia attaches to building up its cattle industry and beef production as a key part of strengthening its long-term food security, according to the Australian Embassy here on its official website on Wednesday.

Australia supports a number of development assistance programmes which aim to support Indonesias goal of lifting its agricultural productivity and food security.

"The Indonesia-Australia Pastoral Industry Student Programme supports the exchange of knowledge and skills between the Indonesian and Australian cattle industries and since it started in 2012, 54 Indonesian students selected across 15 Indonesian universities have undertaken extensive industry training through this programme," Minister Joyce said.

Minister Joyce said the programme is funded by the Australian Government and delivered by the Northern Territory Cattlemens Association (NTCA) and was just one element of the great work being undertaken under the Au$60 million Australia-Indonesia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector.

CEO of the NTCA, Tracey Hayes, said that the Indonesia Australia Pastoral Industry Student Programme was a great medium for both the Australian and Indonesian cattle industries to share knowledge and develop further relations.

"Indonesia is a great trading partner with Australia. The alumni programme that we launch today will ensure strong bonds between our two countries that will continue for many years," Hayes said.

"Each year we host a new bunch of students and we dont want to lose those connections. Every student selected for the programme is studying animal science with a view to working in the cattle industry and we want to make sure those links are not lost," Hayes.

As Minister Joyce highlighted, since the programme first started four years ago, "we have had 54 students go through the course." Having a formal alumni network will help those students develop study and job opportunities, remain up to date with research and industry developments and involved in Australian and Indonesian government initiatives.

"We are immensely proud of this programme and what it has already achieved. We hope to inspire these students and strengthen the cross industry relationships in Indonesia and Australia."

Minister Joyce said the programme involves a rigorous nine-week applied learning experience, comprised of three weeks of intensive pastoral industry training, including animal welfare and handling, followed by a six-week hands-on work experience placement at selected corporate and family-run cattle stations across northern Australia.

"Following on from the success of the programme to date, an additional 20 students will undertake the programme in 2016. I congratulate all those who have completed the training programme so far. I am pleased this alumni programme will help graduates share their skills and knowledge to build productivity and security in the Indonesian cattle industry," he said.

The minister said that the skills of these graduates are highly sought after by employers in Indonesia, including by Australian-based companies operating there.

"Some of the graduates who undertook the programme in 2012 and 2013 are now working fulltime with industry and government in Indonesia, including with the Indonesian offices of Meat and Livestock Australia. Its a great example of how our two countries are working together to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes for our important cattle industries," he said.

Minister Joyce said that both station hosts and students have found the opportunity for reciprocal hands-on learning, with cultural exchange and relationship building invaluable parts of this programme.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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