|Minister Bishop at BbP library about to read 'Maria's family goes to market'. Photo Eva Kuson/DFAT|
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
Launching of the Maria Family Books by Foreign Minister Hon. Julie Bishop in Goroka 18 December 2014
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
Sustainable management of agricultural and forestry systems is one of the most important challenges facing people all over the world. As we strive to feed, house and provide for a rapidly growing and increasingly affluent global population, we need to produce more. At the same time we need to make sure that the production systems we use don’t diminish our ability to produce in the future.
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Thursday, 11 December 2014
Ideas on policy measures for improving rice-based farming systems in the Mekong region are outlined in a conference proceedings just released by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR).
|Cambodian smallholder farmers in rice fields. Photo: ACIAR.|
The meeting brought together 60 senior policymakers and agricultural researchers, primarily from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Australia. The resulting report comprises 25 edited papers, including five synopses of panel and audience deliberations.
Friday, 5 December 2014
Despite soil being all around us, we often fail to realise how much we need it for food, water and most importantly, life! Today marks World Soil Day, a day for celebration and recognition of the importance of soil as a critical component of natural systems and a vital contributor to human wellbeing. The day is celebrated by the global community of 60,000 soil scientists charged with responsibility of generating and communicating soil knowledge for the common good.
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Friday, 28 November 2014
A banana plantation devastated by Panama disease (Tropical Race 4). Photo: Richard Markham/ACIAR
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
|Farmers at a maize field day: a traditional form of communication for development|
Friday, 7 November 2014
|Judges son and father, Josh and Mark Bahen, cocoa grower Denis Nambith and cocoa buyer Basille Malily enjoy|
chocolate over the water in Port Vila at the end of the competition. Photographer: Conor Ashleigh
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Eric Littee (QDAFF) , with Sainiana (measuring veneer), Temo and Elenoa from Fiji Department of Forestry.
Photo: Tony Bartlett.
Friday, 10 October 2014
Fitu, a gardener and weaver from Mission Bay, Futuna, presented me with a beautiful basket that she made as a farewell gift. Photo: Bronnie Anderson-Smith
Wednesday, 1 October 2014
If you have ever searched for locally-made, high-quality jewellery in Fiji, chances are you were pretty disappointed. The truth is most available luxury items have been produced en masse outside of the South Pacific. And, given the items aren’t local, the sale of these imported products has limited livelihood benefits for Fiji people.
However, the ACIAR/Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) project, ‘Assessing potential for developing the mother-of-pearl (MOP) handicraft sector in Fiji: Empowering women’s’ groups and livelihood development in Fiji’ has tackled this issue and is turning it around.
New mother-of-pearl (MOP) jewellery handcrafted by members of Fiji’s *Ba Women’s Forum(BWF), was launched at an event staged in Suva in September at the well-known Tappoo ‘Market Place’ retail outlet. The jewellery range encompasses 20 variations of fashion wear and 14 variations of everyday wear items. For the first time since the PARDI research project began in 2013, fashion connoisseurs and retail representatives had the opportunity to view and purchase the jewellery, and discuss being part of the new venture.
|Models showing off the mother-of-pearl jewellery handcrafted by the Ba Women's Forum.|
The Suva launch means this range of jewellery items is now available for purchase by the general public. Interest is such that, in addition to the original stockists Tappoo, other retail outlets would like to stock the jewellery and well-known cruise ships are happy for Ba Women to sell products to tourists visiting Fiji.
|The newly released Fiji-made mother-of-pearl jewellery is professionally presented with the Ba Women’s Forum's story about hand-made, local merchandise printed on the inside cover of their boxes.|
Prior to the MOP launch, the project involved a rolling series of workshops on MOP jewellery product development. Local women’s group, the BWF, and the local Ba Town Council have worked closely with PARDI, jewellery designer Marie Erl, and Fiji-based fashion designer Robert Kennedy.
|Ba Women's Forum team from left: Ms Marie Erl, Dr Maria Doton (Chair of BWF), Vani Saurara (trainee) and Theo Simos (project manager, University of Adelaide).|
The long-term future of the MOP project will depend on further research funding to train interested locals and value-chain representatives towards the establishment of business models, and their own jewellery-making companies for sustainable and profitable livelihood benefits.
|Vani Saurara (Ba Women's Forum trainee) and model Kirsten.|
PARDI Communications, Julie Lloyd – M: 0415 799 890
Links for further information:
Associated stories and YouTube link are listed below:
Thursday, 25 September 2014
|Nascimento Nhantumbo (Mozambique) and Khamtan Phonetip (Lao PDR)|
The research topics are diverse. For example, Ms Risa Antari (Indonesia) is studying the effect of nutrition on bone growth in cattle at the University of Queensland. Mr Muneer Rehman (Pakistan) is investigating plant hormones to control citrus colouring at Curtin University. While Mr Khamtan Phonetip (Laos) is at the University of Melbourne to research the best way to dry plantation eucalypt wood using a solar kiln.
|Ritika Chowdary (India) and Muneer Rehman (Pakistan)|
They’ve had a jam-packed week so far. Day 1 was spent at ACIAR house, where they spent most of the day in the main conference room, meeting the research program managers and learning about ACIAR’s communications and impact assessment programs.
They also received insights and learnt of some of the challenges associated with completing a JAF from Muhammad Sohail Mazhar from Pakistan. Sohail is in his fourth and final year of his JAF-sponsored PhD on avocado bruising at the University of Queensland.
|Ratih Damayanti and Dwiko Budi Permadi (Indonesia)|
|JAF Week 2014 participants with ACIAR CEO Nick Austin.|
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
This program of improving wheat yields is implemented through an ACIAR brokered partnership between ARIA (the research institute of the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock - MAIL) and CIMMYT (the CGIAR centre dedicated to wheat and maize improvement, ACIAR project CIM/2011/026).
Wheat is the staple commodity in Afghanistan – in excess of 20 million rural people (or about 7 million households) depend directly on the crop. On average about 1.17 million ha of irrigated wheat is grown each year, while up to 1.38 million ha is planted and not irrigated,or rainfed, depending on the season. Rainfed systems are the most challenging to improve because of the associated risk and their very low productivity.
Afghanistan’s wheat yields face significant challenges – low yields from both irrigated and rainfed crops have been further challenged by susceptibility to disease. Of concern are the common strains of yellow rust and the looming regional threat from the aggressive UG99 strain of stem rust.
A ten year partnership ARIA/MAIL, CIMMYT & ACIAR
Research progress has been slow but solid, broadening the range and quality of the wheat varieties available for field trials. On a recent visit to Afghanistan, it was very impressive to visit the Darulaman Research Station, as a guest of ARIA Director General Mr Obaidi and of CIMMYT. The MAIL/ARIA team took the lead in describing all of the work undertaken – it was clear that they have full ownership of the wheat trials.
|The MAIL/ARIA team led by Director General Obaidi (second on left) at Darulaman Research Station in Kabul|
In 2013, Australian sponsored research resulted in the release of 7 improved wheat varieties. The wheat lines released included irrigated varieties with the potential to produce over 6t/ha, and rainfed varieties with the potential to produce 3.8t/ha.
These yields are about 10% better than any current variety and are more than double the current average yields of 2-3t/ha for irrigated wheat and 1-1.5t/ha for non irrigated wheat.
Assisting adoption of new varieties
The MAIL/ARIA program is managing trials in 10 locations representing 4 major agro-climatic zones of Afghanistan. To accelerate adoption of the new varieties, the project has established 4 technical support hubs where the varieties and appropriate wheat growing methods are tested on farmer’s fields and demonstrated to farmers.
|Rainfed wheat production in Char Kent, Balkh Province|
Adoption of new varieties is, however, very slow. It is constrained by factors such as – seed availability and quality, timeliness of distribution, cost of seed, and localised agro-climatic requirements.
ACIAR estimates that adoption could reach up to 20% of the planted area in the medium to long term. If this occurs then up to 1.5 million households will benefit.
David Swete Kelly undertakes Monitoring and Evaluation on behalf of DFAT for the Afghanistan Research for Development Program.
Thursday, 18 September 2014
Dukhni Safi runs a farm of less than a tenth of a hectare in the Madhubani district of Bihar, India.
The farm is now so small it can only provide 4–5 months of the food required yearly for the household.
The resulting women-headed farming households are often poor with small landholdings. These families and their livelihoods are further constrained by the lower levels of education and training afforded to women, and the discrimination to which they are subjected when accessing agricultural technologies.
Dr Lahiri-Dutt’s report is based on a detailed survey of the serious constraints being faced by women living in this extremely poor setting. She knows this region and its challenges for women farmers intimately. Dukhni Safi and Sajjan Devi are farming women whose voices can be heard in two short but insightful case studies featured in the report.
|The burden of work on women is exemplified by the case of 30-year-old Sajjan Devi, a widow, pictured here with two of her three young children.|
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
|Some of the naturally dyed yarns produced by the village women.|
An ACIAR-funded project in eastern Indonesia is supporting the development of integrated agroforestry and non-timber forest product systems. The project partners include government researchers and non-government organisations, including a Bali-based fair-trade organisation—Threads of Life—that uses culture and conservation to alleviate poverty in rural Indonesia.
|William Ingram, founder of Threads of Life, discussing dying with Halena Kase at Bosen.|
Under the ACIAR project, with the support of Threads of Life and the project researchers, women in the village of Bosen, East Nusa Tenggara, are reviving their ancient traditions of making natural dyes for use in weaving to enhance their livelihoods. Since the project started a year ago, the local researchers introduced the Threads of Life staff to the potential opportunities around the Bosen village study site. Women in this village were practising weaving but they had made the transition to using synthetic dyes. Only the older women in the village could remember which local plants had been used to make dyes and what the traditional practices were.
|Margarita Liukae reducing indigo dye.|
The plants, which are nitrogen fixing, are grown in the village gardens and the leaves are then used to make the indigo dye. Following soaking and partial fermentation, lime is added to reduce the indigo and make it more colour fast.
|Halena Kase using the indigo to dye threads for weaving.|
By Tony Bartlett, ACIAR’s Forestry research program manager
Tuesday, 16 September 2014
After a busy 2 days in Canberra, meeting with ACIAR’s Commission for International Agricultural Research and the Foreign Minister, the Hon. Julie Bishop, we had landed safely in Perth and were looking forward to the 3-day tour ahead.
|PAC members with UWA researchers and chickpeas|
|Dr Bo demonstrated his soil science background by taking and examining a soil core from the CSIRO lawn|
We were also shown a sheep nutrition study into the effect of diet on methane production and productivity, a new saltbush variety, and productivity testing of new lupin accessions recently collected from the Fertile Crescent region.
|Wearing biosecure and fashionable plastic shoe covers to inspect the seed potato crop|
At the DAFWA office we learned about the wine industry (even tasting a couple of new varieties) and a fledgling jujube (Chinese red date) industry. Some PAC members wondered why they weren’t exporting jujube to Australia at those prices!
We started the final day with a breakfast hosted by the Western Australian committee of the Crawford Fund. PAC members were very interested in the potential collaboration and training opportunities for their researchers back home.
|Ruth Oniang'o (Kenya) and Leah Buendia (Philippines) show off their fluoro vests|
|Mr Xaypladeth from Laos taking a selfie with Perth in the background|
Rebecca McBride, Communications Officer