Research and Development
SMARTRI focuses on supporting PT SMART Tbk’s (SMART) sustainable palm oil production through innovation, developing best practices and an improved oil palm breeding programme.
SMARTRI conducts research in:
- Agronomy, which includes oil palm tree mineral nutrition, water management, soil fertility, ecophysiology studies, and the development of sustainable cultivation practices;
- Breeding, namely the continuous improvement of the oil palm tree through a conventional selection programme, and more recently through assisted molecular breeding. The development of tissue culture also contributes to improving yields;
- Crop protection, predominantly through an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach;
- Sustainability, including the development of methodologies and tools to assess the environmental impact of our field practices, and the development and testing of more sustainable agricultural practices. We also conduct studies on ecosystem services.
SMARTRI has been ISO 9001:2008 certified for its quality management system in 2003 and accredited with ISO 17025 for its analytical laboratory in 2005. Our research activities are managed by seven departments.
Yield Improvement through R&D
In the palm oil industry, the quality of planting material is recognised as the most critical factor in maximising yields. SMART has been using Dami Mas’ proprietary high-yielding seeds in new plantings and replantings since 2002. The Dami Mas seeds were developed through stringent and robust breeding experiments conducted by SMARTRI. Producing our own seeds also provides seed security and genetic purity in our seed supply. Besides working on improving the yield potential of seeds, SMARTRI also conducts research into disease resistance.
In 2017, we announced a breakthrough in cultivating exceptionally high-yielding oil palm planting material, developed in our research centres, SMART Research Institute’s (SMARTRI) and SMART’s Biotechnology Centre, through an advanced biotechnology programme. These planting materials – Eka 1 and Eka 2 – are registered in Indonesia’s Catalogue of Seeds and were approved for cultivation by the Directorate General of Plantation, Ministry of Agriculture. They will enable us to increase yields to the highest levels in the industry, without increasing land under cultivation. The new planting materials were developed naturally through conventional selection programme and tissue culture from elite palms.
Our work in improving agricultural productivity helps deliver UN SDG 2 which aims to End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
We are also collaborating internationally to increase productivity. SMART is an active participant in the Oil Palm Genome Project, a worldwide initiative by a consortium of 16 reputable research organisations from seven countries. The project uses molecular biology as a tool to support conventional breeding. The main objective is to map the entire genome spectrum of oil palm varieties, including identification of specific traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance, superior quality oil and high yield. We have a dedicated team in our biotechnology division and our staff has been involved in related research activities in Spain and France.