Thursday, 28 November 2013

IN THE FIELD - Charcoal production in Papua New Guinea

Tony Bartlett, ACIAR’s Forestry Research Program Manager, recently travelled to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to see how our research has helped establish community groups that produce and sell charcoal...

About  85% of households in PNG still use fuelwood for cooking, with the average use being six times more than most countries in the Asia-Pacific region. So, fuelwood is an integral part of PNG’s domestic economy. There is a clear opportunity for smallholder farmers (like Tom pictured below) to make money from growing and selling fuelwood from their own tree plantations.
Farmer Tom (left) with researcher Dr Ian Nuberg
in Tom's fuelwood tree patch

Monday, 25 November 2013

Growing our knowledge and the world's farmers

Matt Linnegar
(Hilary Wardaugh Photography)
The latest edition of ACIAR’s Flagship publication—‘Partners in research for development’—was issued today. Part of the Australian Government’s Development Assistance program, ACIAR manages agricultural research projects to address problems of mutual interest and benefit to both developing countries and Australia. The bumper edition includes many examples of how ACIAR’s portfolio of research projects has helped the livelihoods of smallholder farmers overseas, while providing benefits back home. Matt Linnegar, CEO of the National Farmers’ Federation provides an in-depth editorial outlining the significant benefits ACIAR provides in the domestic arena. An excerpt of his editorial follows. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Commending an industry legend on World Fisheries Day

Cletus Oengpepa - in his element
(photo: Frederique Olivier)
World Fisheries Day, November 21, is celebrated throughout the world by fishing communities. It is fitting that this year, on his retirement, we commend the contributions to fisheries research from Mr Cletus Oengpepa.

Cletus, WorldFish research station manager at Gizo in the Western Province of Solomon Islands, has been a valuable partner with ACIAR more than two decades. He has been an inspiration in his efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and resource management in the Pacific Island region.

"Cletus Oengpepa is a mentor, a leader, a colleague and friend," said Delvene Boso, Country Manager for WorldFish in the Solomon Islands. Her words were echoing how Cletus was described by colleagues in a farewell luncheon held to mark his final week with WorldFish.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Photovoice speaking up on water issues in India

Water is a key issue in Rajasthan and Gujarat states in India. As part of ACIAR research on groundwater management in these states, we have explored villagers’ relationships with groundwater, agriculture and livelihood through photography.
Children drinking water at school  (Photo: M. Chew)
Michael Chew, a postgraduate student from the University of Western Sydney, used an approach called 'Photovoice'. This involved teaching local villagers to take photos around their villages and farms, so they could capture images that demonstrated their current views and future hopes for water access.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Global hunger and resilience – one part of the puzzle

The International Food Policy ResearchInstitute (IFPRI) has recently released the 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI). The GHI uses an amalgamated score across three measures to rank countries and regions on a 100 point scale. The higher the index score the more dire the levels of hunger or to put it another way, the greater the prevalence of food insecurity within a country. 

The three measures – each equally weighted – are:
  • Proportion of people who are undernourished
  • Proportion of children younger than 5 years who are underweight
  • Child mortality rates for children under 5 years

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Let the sunshine in - growing crops and teak trees in Lao PDR

ACIAR research is shining light, literally, on how to successfully grow crops and teak together in Lao PDR...

Many smallholder farmers in the Luang Prabang region of northern Lao PDR are growing teak. At least 25,000 hectares of teak has been planted over the last 20 years. Current government policies support the continued expansion of new teak plantings. In most cases, farmers plant 1800-2500 trees per hectare and farm the land between the trees for 3 or 4 years. By that time the tree canopies block out sunlight and inhibit growth of plants underneath. This can make life difficult for farmers who don’t have enough land to grow crops somewhere else while their teak trees mature to a size of high value.

Another problem for farmers is that in the absence of good markets for small teak logs, they are reluctant to thin out densely-planted teak forests, even though this maximises growth and improves the quality of the remaining trees. So, how can research help farmers overcome these issues?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Research must meet the needs of young people

ACIAR’s Principal Advisor Dr Simon Hearn recently attended a workshop in Pakistan on youth and agriculture. He says the key message centred on the need for agricultural research providing opportunities for youth...

Many developing countries have a large number of rural youth looking to improve their lives. To capitalise on this, agricultural research needs to have practical applications and provide opportunities for young people.

Meeting the challenges of engaging youth in agriculture and related industries, to produce future regional food needs, is a high priority of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI).