Friday, 30 October 2015

We're going MAD for digital data!

The plight of paper based surveys and data collection is well known to many researchers out there, where data written on paper needs to be later entered into a digital spread, such as excel. This duplicates that number of times and people handling the data before it is analysed and reported on. This can introduce errors into the data and it can be months after the data is collected before the researcher or project leader can see what is actually happening in the field.

A farmer having his photo being taken using Survey CTO. Source: Jack Hetherington

Monday, 26 October 2015

Soil building for fun and profit in Kiribati and Tuvalu

“Coral gravels are soils too, you know”

We are gathered in South Tarawa, the main town of the Republic of Kiribati, to launch an ACIAR-funded project on solving the challenges facing food crops on coral atolls of Kiribati and Tuvalu.

The project is part of a package that includes an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) project, 'The Outer Islands Food and Water Project', aimed at improving food security and livelihoods on the atoll islands.

The ACIAR project 'Improving soil health, agricultural productivity and food security on atolls', “soil health” for short, is a partnership between the Ministry of Environment, Land and Agricultural Development (Kiribati), the Secretariat for Pacific Communities (SPC), the University of Tasmania, the University of Adelaide, and the Department of Agriculture (Tuvalu).

Photo of Tokintekai Bakineti directing implementation of a trial in Kiribati. Source: Siosiua Halavatau

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Milking more profits for farmers in Pakistan

Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of milk in the world and that production comes from 9 million smallholder dairy farms.  Typically a household will own 2-4 dairy cattle and each of those might produce around 5 litres of milk per day (compared with 20 litres/day for cows in Australia). 
Male calves from these farms are usually left to fend for themselves, with very high mortality.  Demand for milk and meat in Pakistan is increasing rapidly creating market opportunities for poor households if production and marketing constraints can be overcome.

In October this year a dairy research and development program under the Australian-funded Agriculture Sector Linkages Program, showcased the very significant improvements in dairy production and marketing that are possible in Pakistan.  Through action research with women and men farmers in 56 villages and 12 schools, the program evaluated 20 management improvements.  Of these, 7 were shown to have high potential to improve milk and meat productivity for smallholder farmers. The research found that with only simple changes in cow management the weight gain of calves increased five-fold, reaching 350+ grams/d and mortality was reduced to less than 5%.  Milk productivity also increased by over 20%.   

Photo: Mandy Gyles

Friday, 16 October 2015

Showcasing ASLP Phase-II

The Australian-Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Program (ASLP) was launched in 2006 with a budget of A$6.6 million. The goal of ASLP was to transfer knowledge and expertise, alleviate poverty, increase research and development (R&D) and increase agricultural extensions. ASLP was then extended to ASLP phase-II for an additional 5 years, which concluded on 30 September 2015.
Left to right: Nadeem Ajmal (PARC), Dr Ejaz Qureshi (ACIAR), Dr Iftikhar Ahmad (ACIAR PAC member), H.E.Margaret Adamson (High Commissioner to Pakistan), Seerat Asghar (Secretary MNFSR), Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan (Federal Minister for MNFSR) and Dr Malik Zahoor Ahmed (Director General/Project Director NAPHIS). Source: Fariza Kamran

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

World Food Week: The importance of an interdisciplinary approach to food security

As the world acknowledges World Food Week this week (12–16 October), it is a timely reminder to recognise world food problems and the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. This year’s theme of ‘Social protection and agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty’ complements a recent visit to ACIAR by four women who are involved in interdisciplinary research on food security.

Left to right: Ir Sarini Niputu, Dr Wende Maulaga, Dr Hilda Lumbwe and Dr Joanita Jong. Credit: ACIAR

Monday, 12 October 2015

The International Mango Symposium – a wonderful networking experience

International scientific meetings are an important part of the ‘impact pathway’ for ACIAR projects, providing project teams a forum for sharing their results with other researchers and industry partners. Perhaps even more importantly, however, such meetings provide a tremendous opportunity for building the capacity of project researchers. Through the formal presentations, they hear about the latest research results from other countries; during the tea breaks and meal times, they have the opportunity to exchange ideas informally with global leaders in their research area; and through field visits to farms and industry partners, they encounter local best practice and gain practical ideas to try out in industry development in their own countries.

Dr Randy Ploetz gives the plenary address on mango disease. Source: Richard Markham