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The Good Cooks Episode Three: Indonesia with Rebecca Sullivan

Rebecca Sullivan cooking in Kupang, Indonesia

In episode three of ‘The Good Cooks’, Aussie food writer and TV presenter, Rebecca Sullivan, travels from The Clare Valley to West Timor to learn how ACIAR is helping these Indonesian cattle farmers and to learn how to cook like a local.

West Timor is one of Indonesia’s poorest provinces. Raising beef cattle to feed Asia’s emerging middle class can help Indonesian farmers break out of poverty trap and transform the lives of whole communities.

However, increasingly unpredictable weather conditions and unreliable and poor quality cattle feed (particularly in the very long dry season) meant raising cattle in West Timor was not delivering the far-reaching community benefits it could.

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Rebecca Sullivan cooking Jagung Katema in Kupang, Indonesia
Rebecca Sullivan cooking Jagung Katema in Kupang, Indonesia

So ACIAR brought together teams of scientists to work with Indonesian authorities on a range of programs to solve some of the problems facing cattle farmers in West Timor.

One of their great successes has been introducing a new legume, a fast growing Australian variety of acacia legume, as a cattle feed that doesn’t just nourish the cows—it nourishes the soil to improve production of other essential crops, such as rice and maize.

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Cattle eating acacia legume in Kupang, Indonesia
Cattle eating acacia legume in Kupang, Indonesia

Aussie food writer, Rebecca Sullivan, went to West Timor to meet some of the people involved in the program, to learn about ACIAR’s work and to learn how to cook like a local—which, by the way, involves rather a lot of chilli.

Rebecca Sullivan
Rebecca Sullivan is a self-taught cook and has worked with some of the world’s best food producers, academics, activists, and chefs.

 Rebecca has worked on many a projects any food lover would envy, from launching the Real Food Festival in London to working on Slow Food Nation in San Francisco, farming coffee in Uganda to teaching scientists in the Maldives for the United Nations. 

In 2012, Rebecca signed on as a presenter on Love to Share on the TEN Network in Australia, has appeared regularly on Channel TEN’s The Circle and Breakfast Shows, as well as Channel Nine’s Morning and TODAY show. Rebecca is also an OZ Harvest, BALL USA Ambassador and writes for SBS Food, Broadsheet, CityMag, SA Gardens, Sweet, Alquemie, NITV, ABC Organic Gardener and Delicious UK to name a few. Rebecca’s is currently writing four new books to be released in 2018. Her second book, ’The Art of the Natural Home,’ came out in May 2017.

With thanks to Departemen Pertanian Balai Pengkajian Teknologi Pertanian-NTT, Indonesia, Indonesian Agency for Agriculture Research & Development, Indonesian Centre for Agricultural Technology Assessment and Development and the CSIRO.

For more information on the ACIAR research project visit: Integrating herbaceous forage legumes into crop and livestock systems in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia