Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Improving sorghum breeding in Ethiopia

ACIAR has just partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a new sorghum-breeding project in Ethiopia - last month Dr Eric Huttner, ACIAR’s Crop Improvement and Management program manager, visited the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR) at Melkassa, southwest of Addis Ababa, to check out the project's progress...

Sorghum is the third largest crop in Ethiopia and a key crop for food security there. ACIAR has provided co-funding to a grant with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a project aimed primarily at building Ethiopia’s capacity in sorghum breeding. The project will enable Ethiopian researchers to apply the most modern breeding methods to improve sorghum for use in their country. It will include identification of genetic components for tolerance to drought, to accelerate the breeding of sorghum varieties that use water more efficiently.

Mr Alemu Tirfessa (2nd from left), team leader of EIAR sorghum improvement program,
with colleagues measuring plant development parameters. The data will be used to parameter
the crop simulation model APSIM for Ethiopian sorghum. The Ethiopian team is recording
the data on a mobile phone, using electronic data capture software developed by the Australian partners.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Blueprint for brilliant beche-de-mer

A brand new guidebook to processing sea cucumbers is already making a splash internationally. Thanks to ACIAR-funded research aiming to improve livelihoods of village fishers in the Pacific, the booklet has been developed by project partners Southern Cross University and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
Fisher in Kiribati collecting a leopardfish (photo S. Purcell)
Sea cucumbers have been hand-collected and exported from the Pacific Islands since the 1840s. Once processed to a dried product known as ‘beche-de-mer’ in the food world, they are particularly popular in China, used as a key luxury ingredient of festive dishes.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Working together for wheat: Indo-Australian partnership

Indian and Australian scientists are working together to fast track the development of better wheat, including varieties that use water more efficiently and are resistant to disease...

Farming wheat productively into the future will be essential for food security. The search is on for better plant material and genetic tools to enable wheat breeders to come up with varieties that will do the job.
Australian and Indian deep-roots scientists inspecting trial wheat

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Nurturing our region’s research leaders

Each year a small group of agricultural research leaders collaborating in ACIAR projects has the opportunity to take part in a six-week program in Australia to help them make the transition from being researchers to research managers.

"John Dillon Fellowships give mid-career researchers a great opportunity to build their skills in research management, agricultural policy and communication. They're exposed to Australian agriculture across a range of best-practice organisations and make valuable links with research leaders," said ACIAR's CEO Dr Nick Austin.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Oranges and mangoes in Pakistan (Part II)

Another story of sweet success from the Australia-Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Program (ASLP)..

Ms Aasia Akbar is a woman on a mango mission. A food technologist researcher from the Institute of Food Management Sciences, Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam-Pakistan, she has worked out how to use the whole mango to make a swathe of delicious products such as mango pickle, jam, jelly, slices and squash.

Women at the training workshop

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Commemorating World Oceans Day – not just clowning around

Thane Militz of James Cook University must have one of the prettiest subjects in the world to study for his PhD: clownfish (of ‘Finding Nemo’ fame) from the crystal-clear tropical waters of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Spectacular clownfish in Papua New Guinea

His thesis is on enhancing culture techniques for marine ornamental fishes to sustainably supply the aquarium trade. It forms part of a larger ACIAR project on mariculture development in New Ireland Province within PNG.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Oranges and mangoes – Pakistan farmers watch their investments grow

Success stories are arriving thick and fast from the Australia-Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Program (ASLP), where farmers are putting training into practice to grow productive, disease-free plants.
Mr Afzaal in his greenhouse at Sultan nursery
Mr Afzaal from Punjab province and Dr Daud-Ur-Rehman from Khyber are two keen citrus growers who visited Australia to receive training in how to set up and run a successful nursery.

Thanks to the ASLP, these men learnt valuable skills in many aspects of commercial citrus production—including building protective sheds, using improved potting media, adopting better pruning practices and managing disease. On returning home and applying these skills, they are now reaping the benefits.