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By Tan Wei Rui

Musim Mas identifies and grows high-potential employees to help them achieve their career goals while driving the company’s future growth.

In 2017, we partnered Crops For the Future (CFF)[1] and the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) to initiate a postgraduate scholarship programme for Musim Mas employees. One of the programme goals is to investigate the potential of intercropping oil palm with underutilised crops[2].

We interviewed Mr Ardiansyah Rachmad, our Research & Development (R&D) Manager who is one of two recipients of the scholarship.

Please describe your role and years at Musim Mas.

I joined PT. Musim Mas Research and Development (R&D) department in 2007 as an agronomist based in PT. Musim Mas Sorek for 2 years. I was transferred to our R&D Centre in Central Kalimantan in 2009 and promoted to R&D manager in 2014. In 2015 I was transferred back to PT.MM to head the R&D centre in Sorek. My role is to lead a team of agronomists to provide crop advisory to all the estates in Sumatra. This include accurate and site-specific fertilizer recommendations, ground cover management, pest and disease control and GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) to assist the estate to achieve high yields in a sustainable manner.

In addition, we also lay down field trials designed to solve the problems encountered by the estates and improve our crop advisory recommendation. We also conduct soil survey to evaluate land potential and suitability for oil palm cultivation. We also play an active role in audit certification of RSPO, ISCC, POIG and ISPO.

How was your experience participating in the Musim Mas CFF scholarship programme?

In 2017, I was accepted into the Master of Research (MRes) programme at University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM). I was given a tuition scholarship by Crop For the Future Research Centre (CFF-RC) and PT. Musim Mas, sponsored all the other expenses including salaries. I was awarded the MRes degree in October 2019, I am greatly heartened by this opportunity to further my studies, but at the same time, be able to contribute to the sustainable growth of oil palm.

My thesis investigated the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil in matured oil palm Plantation . To fulfil CFF’s mandate, I also explored how oil palm plantations could be intercropped with other plants. To this end, we planted six crops ; Cassava, Corn, Sorghum, Moringa, Bambara Groundnut and Elephant Grass (Pennisetum purpureum) on a three-hectare trial site to examine their productivity alongside oil palm and their impact on the performance of the oil palm. During the programme I have improved my knowledge and personal skill and also gain positive experience in learning.

What is next, after completing this programme?

Intercropping requires additional investment, planning and work. However, it could be a viable source of alternative income if executed correctly.

We have plans to share these findings and agronomic best practices with our scheme and independent Smallholders , in the hope of enlivening their livelihoods.

We anticipate this stream of work to become an increasingly important pillar that would contribute to the global food security agenda.

[1] CFF is an independent, international organisation with a mansdate to promote and facilitate greater use of neglected and underutilised crops.

[2] Underutilised crops are crops with unrealised potential to contribute to human welfare. Source:, accessed 25 February 2020.