The choice to pursue forestry studies was an unusual one back in the 1990s, particularly among women, but it was for precisely this reason that Ida Febriantine went for it.
“I decided to study forestry, after considering its long-term prospects. I figured that if I studied it, it would be easier to get a related job in the future as there would be less competition,” Ida says with a smile.
Ida studied at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), located in her hometown of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
In 1996, after graduating, she joined Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) as a Tree Breeder, responsible for plant propagation.
However, Ida wanted to further her studies, so she left the company in 1998.
“I wanted to deepen my knowledge about forest genetics, so I decided to study quantitative genetics in Taiwan.
“From there, I wanted to learn even more so I went on to study plant tissue culture in Belgium,” she says.
When she returned to Indonesia in 2003, she joined RAPP again, helping implement a method known as plant tissue isolation to boost productivity of plantations.
Then in 2007, Ida was asked to move to Asian Agri, to set up its Clonal Oil Palm Production Unit (COPPU).
COPPU’s main function is to produce new oil palms using cuttings from existing trees, rather than growing them from seeds.
“By using tissue culture, we are able to produce far superior oil palms than if we use ordinary plant breeding methods,” she explains.
However, the tissue culture method is still at the research stage at Asian Agri. “We are still monitoring our plants carefully to ensure there are no abnormalities. When we determine that there are no problems with the young plants, then we move them to a larger land area to grow,” she says.
Ida recalls the area “being all bushes and dirt roads” when she first moved to Pangkalan Kerinci from Yogyakarta.
“I thought it was quite boring with no entertainment. There was just the work and employees,” she says.
However, Ida says it was just a matter of learning how to make it more enjoyable.
“I handled it by making friends, constantly looking for good food, and discovering sports and other fun activities. And what do you know, 15 years have gone by just like that,” she says.
Three years ago, Ida was among the founding members of the Asian Agri Hapkido Club. The club currently comprises 15 members, all of whom are COPPU employees.
The club trains twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays, led by Ida and two other members, who are Hapkido black belts.
In her free time, Ida also enjoys playing with her beloved Rottweiler dogs, who have also given her a fun way to put her genetics knowledge to use outside of work.
“I first decided to try breeding dogs since breeding is what I know best! Granted I usually breed plants, but breeding principles and the science is generally the same.
“I’m just taking the knowledge and applying it to my dogs, and it seems so to be working well so far. Two of my puppies have actually just been crowned champions at a national dog competition a few days ago!”
Follow in the footsteps of Ida! Together with Asian Agri, become a part of people’s lives and create a sustainable future for the community and country. Join us!