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27 Mar 2024

Agriani Hermita Sadeli Reducing Food Waste through Campaign on Imperfect Vegetables Awareness

Perceived by the public as unappetising due to their unconventional appearance, sub-optimal or imperfect vegetables often go to waste. Their bizarre shapes, resembling human body parts or even animals, render them undesirable to consumers. Consequently, these imperfect vegetables contribute significantly to food waste despite possessing the same nutritional value as conventionally shaped ones.Top of Form

To tackle food waste, Agriani Hermita Sadeli, a lecturer at Padjajaran University (UNPAD) in Bandung, West Java, teamed up with Vania Febriyantie, the director of Seni Tani, an urban farming social enterprise in that city. Their collaboration began when they participated in the Australia Awards Short Course on Sustainable Agri-food Systems, run by the University of Adelaide, in 2022.

During the Short Course, Agriani, affectionately known as Agi, and Vania initiated a campaign to increase public awareness regarding imperfect vegetable products.

Initially, Agi applied for the Short Course due to its alignment with her research focus on food supply chains. As a participant, she felt she was in the perfect environment to delve deeper into her area of expertise.

“In Short Course, I met professionals with similar interests from various backgrounds such as farmers and representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture,” Agi said.

“Most of the people who came to the Course are very potential candidate to do collaboration in the future,” she adds. Agi also highlighted a specific lecture by Professor Wendy Umberger, the Executive Director of the Centre for Global Foods and Resources at The University of Adelaide, as particularly relevant to her research.

“Professor Wendy emphasises the importance of entrepreneurs in improving public awareness of consumable but sub-optimal vegetable products. She stressed that relying solely on government education efforts may prove challenging,” Agi noted.

Agi’s research, “Consumers’ Purchase Behaviour in Short Food Supply Chains using Social Commerce in Indonesia,” was published by Elsevier in the Journal of Cleaner Production in December 2022. Her work garnered recognition from UNPAD, earning her the Best Publication in the Field of Technology and Science award during the university's 66th Dies Natalis celebration in September 2023.

From Waste to Taste

During their Award Project, Agi and Vania discovered that Seni Tani experiences a monthly surplus of 20-30 per cent or 30-40 kg of imperfectly shaped harvested vegetables. To address this issue and minimise food waste, Seni Tani, along with Agi and Vania, launched a campaign in Bandung to educate locals about the safety and equal nutritional value of imperfect vegetables compared to their regular counterparts.

“When conducting the campaign, we observed a significant level of interest from the audience in the distinctive shapes of imperfect vegetables,” Agi elaborated.

The campaign, led by Agi and Vania, targeted 80 elementary school and kindergarten children and 136 adults, including housewives and UNPAD students.

“We initiated the campaign in July, and by November, we witnessed a notable increase in the sales of imperfect vegetables from Seni Tani,” Agi remarked.

For Agi, the field visits during the Short Course served as a benchmark for comparing the conditions of farmers in Australia and Indonesia.

“In Australia, I had the opportunity to visit Farmers Market, where I observed how imperfect produce from farmers does not go to waste but is instead sold at reasonable prices. The market supports the farmers,” she explained.

“I share the knowledge gained from the course during my lectures, particularly emphasising sustainability. Moreover, I’ve implemented what I learned in my daily life as a lecturer at UNPAD Faculty of Agriculture,” Agi added.

With a refined comprehension of sustainability, Agi acknowledges the challenges in raising public awareness.

"I am glad I got to witness how Australians are very aware of the sustainability issue. It gives me insights on how to apply the best strategy to improve public awareness of sustainability in Indonesia," she said.

To this day, Agi still maintains good relationships with other course participants she met in Adelaide.

“Including with Seni Tani, we still doing research together to improve public awareness on sustainability issues in social, environment and economy,” Agi said.

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