Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Doing well by doing good: Crawford Fund report released

A study 'Doing Well by Doing Good, International agricultural research – how it benefits Australia as well as developing countries' was released today by the Crawford Fund. The report analyses the benefits to Australia from investments in agricultural research and food security as part of the Australian Government’s aid program. The Crawford Fund’s taskforce Chair, the Hon Neil Andrew, outlined the key findings from the report in an opinion piece, published in the most recent issue of ACIAR’s ‘Partners’ magazine. This special ‘Australian Benefits’ issue included many examples of how ACIAR’s portfolio of research projects has helped the livelihoods of smallholder farmers overseas, while providing benefits back home. An excerpt from Mr Andrew’s article follows.

While international agricultural research in general, and ACIAR’s program in particular, should be aimed primarily at improving economic welfare in the developing countries, it is in the nature of new knowledge in agriculture—drawing on the skills and expertise of Australian researchers—that it can serve the interests of Australian producers as well.

Our study will show convincingly that it does.

I firmly believe that Australian investment in international agricultural research helps ensure food security and farm productivity, for this country and for the world

Together with Margaret Reid AO, Dr Tony Gregson AM and Dr Denis Blight AO, I had the pleasure of calling on Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop recently and was pleased to find her sympathetic to our findings and supportive of the work of ACIAR.

Our report is the result of a process that commenced in March 2013. It involved national consultations, comments on a draft report and a discussion paper, as well as a commissioned meta-review of published analyses of costs and benefits to Australia.

Our commissioned high-level review demonstrated an impressive return on investment of between 50:1 and 70:1 by ACIAR and research partners in Australia and developing countries. This return:
  • came from a sample of just 10% of ACIAR’s total bilateral research program
  • greatly exceeds the total investment in ACIAR-led bilateral research to date, and
  • results from increased farm incomes in developing countries, although it also led to advances in the productivity of Australian agriculture.
Like the recent edition of Partners magazine, our report has numerous examples of benefits.
Australian researchers work abroad gaining experience and capacity, which yield unquantified benefits to Australia. These include:
  • fresh thinking on Australian agricultural issues
  • new scientific tools and insights in developing countries that can also apply in Australia
  • opportunities to understand and prevent threatening biosecurity risks, and
  • high credibility for Australia in international scientific forums and peer-group meetings, and among internationally respected colleagues.
The aim of aid-supported agricultural research must always be to increase global food security and reduce poverty by enhancing agricultural productivity and by increasing international trade. This research can also enhance the potential for Australian agricultural production, research capabilities and biosecurity.

It was a great pleasure for me to serve on the taskforce and to see ACIAR sustained through the change of government so that it can continue its good work for farmers in developing countries and in Australia.

By: Neil Andrew, Crawford Fund taskforce Chair

Further information

Download the Crawford Fund taskforce report: 'Doing Well by Doing Good, International agricultural research – how it benefits Australia as well as developing countries'

Series of YouTube interviews produced by the Crawford Fund: Presentations provided by researchers, farmers and others as part of the Fund's 'Doing Well by Doing Good' Taskforce.

Full copy of the Hon Neil Andrew’s article for Partners magazine

Australian Benefits’ edition of Partners magazine

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