Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A picture’s worth a thousand words – using photos in social research in Pakistan

‘Visual ethnography’ involves the use of photos as an aid in education and workshopping.  This technique has recently been successfully used to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of poverty in Pakistan, particularly related to mango, citrus and dairy farmers.  This social research forms part of a larger research program (Australia–Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Program, ASLP), which aims to improve livelihoods of the rural poor in Pakistan through enhancing the dairy, mango and citrus industries.
Pakistani women looking at photos
Women discussing citrus value chain issues
at a workshop in a citrus-growing village near Faisalabad

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Socioeconomic research in PNG is changing lives

PNG smallholder farmer
Last month, ACIAR’s Agricultural Systems Management program manager, Dr Caroline Lemerle brought together the many researchers involved in socioeconomic aspects of agricultural research in Papua New Guinea (PNG). At the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) Headquarters in Lae, 40 researchers represented 8 ACIAR projects, past and present. Over two days, participants discussed their projects, the constraints they faced, the outputs they achieved and the lessons learned.

The projects covered a range of commodities, including vegetables, coffee, floriculture, coffee and oil palm, across a range of geographies such as Western Highlands, Central Province and New Britain. Over the two days participants compared constraints faced in East New Britain with those in the Highlands, and the lessons learned in coffee and oil palm with those in sweetpotato and vegetable crops.

Friday, 26 July 2013

IN THE FIELD: Sand, sand everywhere–but it’s Vietnam, not the Sahara!

Dr Evan Christen, ACIAR’s Research Program Manager for Land and Water Resources, recently travelled to Vietnam to scope for an upcoming project on effectively farming in sandy soils. He explains the process involved in identifying the farmers’ needs and developing the project’s focus...

Dr Evan Christen with Vietnamese farmer, Mr Tuyen

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Casting an eye over Indonesian fish catches

A new manual for identifying Indonesia’s bony fishes has just been published. It provides a valuable source of information for fishers and managers in the world's most species-rich marine area.

fish book cover
The publication is available at:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

ACIAR Commission's visit to Indonesia

The Commission for International Agricultural Research visited Indonesia 17-21 June, to witness firsthand ACIAR-related activities in one of our most important partner countries. The visit also coincided with the 30th anniversary of Indonesia–ACIAR partnerships. They visited Jakarta, East Java and Bali.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Afghani farming systems program meets up in New Delhi

The inaugural program oversight meeting for Improving the Productivity of Afghan Farming Systems in Water Scarce Environments was recently held in New Delhi, India. ACIAR staff member Joy Hardman gives this report...

This AusAID-funded program for Afghanistan includes three ACIAR projects researching sustainable wheat and maize production, integrated catchment management, and livestock forage options, all with the aim of improving the livelihoods of Afghani smallholder farmers.

Afghani farmer with maize harvest

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Partnerships around the world

I have been busy compiling a collection of ACIAR’s finest photos, so have been sifting through the multitudes of our images. I was completely astounded as I trekked through these images and travelled across time and continents. The sheer variety of the organisation’s work never fails to amaze, with their helping hands reaching from the arid plains of Africa to the lush forests of the Pacific Islands.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Top of the Crops! Top 10 nutritious leafy vegetables in the Pacific

An ACIAR-funded study on nutritionally rich leafy vegetables in the Pacific region has identified the ‘Top 10’ and produced a series of fact sheets to promote them to indigenous communities. The study’s goal is to encourage the production and consumption of these important food crops, to help combat the current epidemic of diet-related diseases in Pacific islanders and indigenous Australians.
Aibika for sale in markets in Suva, Fiji
Photo R Goebel

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

ACIAR's Laos office opens doors

Our country office in Lao PDR was officially launched last month. The office is the hub for ACIAR work in the Mekong countries and China region. Being set up at the Australian embassy in Vientiane helps to enhance the close engagement between ACIAR and AusAID programs assisting Lao development.

Friday, 5 July 2013

IN THE FIELD – Myanmar in a new era

(in-country visits by ACIAR’s research managers)

The children we met were not shy from the camera.
Gyoke Pin Village in the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar.
Photo by Jenny Hanks
In June, ACIAR’s ­ Principal Regional Coordinator for Mekong countries and China, Dr Gamini Keerthsinghe, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to implement a research project in a country ACIAR has been working with for over a decade. The smallholder farmers and rural poor are set to benefit from opportunities for the Australian Government to work at a greater level of cooperation with the Government of Myanmar, which is undergoing a period of ambitious reform that is unprecedented in its recent history...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Gold medal performance for ACIAR’s Fisheries Program

ACIAR’s Fisheries Program was recently presented with a gold medal from the Asian Fisheries Society (AFS), in recognition of its outstanding contribution to fisheries research and development throughout South East Asia over the past two decades.

Barney Smith (right) receiving the AFS Gold Medal,
presented by the then AFS President Derek Staples

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Giving power to African farmers

This article has been extracted from the latest issue of the newsletter produced by the Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC). The AIFSC is a centre within ACIAR. You can subscribe to receive AIFSC newsletters directly.  
A female farmer using two-wheel tractor fitted with a
Chinese-designed conservation agriculture planter.
Photo credit CIMMYT

While farmers in the rest of the world have seen the power available to them increase dramatically over the past decades, for most African farmers it has stagnated, and often declined. Indeed, the numbers of tractors and draught animals on the continent have decreased, making back-breaking manual work a main feature of African agriculture.