Within the project Smart Indonesian Agriculture (SMART-IN-AG) A PhD grant is available for the topic of: “Developing scenarios for sustainable land use in fish and dairy production systems in Indonesia”


The demand for animal protein, both fish and dairy, is increasing in Indonesia. Both sectors are therefore
looking for ways to increase their production, however, there are constraints. The availability of land and
fresh water is limited. Therefore, in order to increase production without further pressure on land and
water, current production systems need to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly in
terms of production, environmental impact and resource use efficiency. At present it is difficult to
evaluate current farming systems since data isn’t always collected in a longitudinal and structured
Smart farming in dairy and fish systems allows to collect data in a longitudinal manner and to evaluate
the current production systems, particularly on the required inputs and employed management/practical
techniques, and to improve the level of animal production in Indonesia. Using this data, risk factors and
management issues that block sustainable production will be identified. The collected information will be
provided back to farmers through technologies such as apps to aid them to improve on-farm production

PhD topic
Farms can be looked at as social-ecological systems, which are, by definition, complex and hard to control. Implementation of SMART farming interventions is not straightforward and often leads to unexpected and undesired (side-)effects. It is expected that land use, which is a constraint for both dairy and fish farming, might have to change in order to make systems more sustainable. In this PhD research, the current land use and the constraints it holds for expanding production (e.g. limited fodder production) is first explored using literature studies and interviews with farmers. Second, using agent-based models (ABM) potential
scenarios for land-use change are evaluated (Valbuena et al., 2010). A combination of ABM with Role Play Games (RPG) will be applied on farms. Combining RPG and ABM is used to facilitate a social learning
process (Pahl-Wostl and Hare, 2004). The ABM will be parametrized based upon the knowledge from RPG and the knowledge derived from fieldwork. Fourth, scenarios for the transition towards more sustainable land use with regards to the controlling factors in combination with animal production will be designed in a participatory setting jointly with stakeholders.


Required background

  • An MSc degree in environmental sciences, (social) geography or any other related discipline.
  • Proven experience with system thinking and with qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Experience with modelling (especially ABM), GIS and/or programming (Python or R) is an advantage
  • Experience in programming languages such as Python, R, and Java
  • Excellent oral and writing communication skills in English
  • Passion for doing research in a multidisciplinary team together with farmers and other stakeholders
  • Enthusiasm for both the work field and working in the field in two countries (Indonesia and the Netherlands)

Further information
The PhD will be obtained from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. The research will be divided between Indonesia (30 months) and Wageningen University, the Netherlands (18 months). Research costs including visa, travel costs for travelling within the project, and costs associated with data collection are covered by the project. For the period in Wageningen, a grant is available to cover salary costs. Salary costs in Indonesia are not covered in the project, so we have a strong preference for candidates that can support themselves or are supported by their employer. However, in the circumstance where a candidate is unable to find this support but has outstanding credentials, the project team will consider supporting him or her during their research time in Indonesia.

In order to be admitted to the Wageningen University PhD programme, selected candidates will have to go through the admission procedure. A proven sufficient level of English proficiency as indicated by an IELTS score of 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 for speaking) is required.

Next to this position, four other PhD positions (with different topics) are open in the project. Of these five positions, three will be supported by an LPDP scholarship. The LPDP scholarship is a personal grant that will cover all salary costs, both in Indonesia and in the Netherlands. Selected candidates are encouraged to enrol in the LPDP scholarship application. They will have to go through an additional procedure to compete for the LPDP grant.

For more information please contact dr. Arend Ligtenberg (arend.ligtenberg@wur.nl) or dr. Perdinan

To show your interest, please submit your CV and a letter of motivation before August 23, 2020, to Dr Marjolein Derks (marjolein.derks@wur.nl)