Wednesday, 30 March 2016

ACIAR Commission engages with key partners during a five day visit to Pakistan

The Commission for International Agricultural Research visited Pakistan from 29 February to
4 March 2016 where they undertook a five day study tour as part of familiarisation with ACIAR activities and to build relationships with key government stakeholders, research partners and research teams to better understand the management and implementation of ACIAR work.

During the five day visit Commissioners travelled to Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad and Lahore to meet with representatives from government departments and universities, as well as a number of local growers, and were impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of ACIAR’s Pakistani partners.

Commissioner Catherine Marriott observing the work of a small machine used to make bales of fodder for preservation. Photo: Munawar Kazmi, ACIAR

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Agroforestry systems offer benefits to Lao farmers

For the past eight years, ACIAR has been conducting research into the development of teak-based agroforestry systems in northern Laos. While agroforestry research is inherently a long term proposition, it is becoming evident that this ACIAR research in Laos is already generating benefits for farmers and that recent new research on the incorporation of broom grass into the agroforestry system has great potential to enhance the outcomes for women. After years of methodical research on thinning and spacing of teak plantings and discussions with farmers, the project has developed an innovative teak agroforestry system that is much better suited to farmer needs and more likely to yield high returns than the current approach to teak planting.

7.5 year old wide spaced teak at NAFC

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

ACIAR project guides climate change adaptation in the Mekong Delta

Robert Edis, Program Manager for Soil Management and Crop Nutrition, reports on a recently completed project that takes a systems approach to tackling climate change impacts in the Mekong River Delta

The project “Climate Change Affecting Land Use in the Mekong Delta: Adaptation of Rice-based Cropping Systems (CLUES) (SMCN/2009/021)” has improved the adaptive capacity of rice-based farming systems for effectively managing impacts of climate change. The project was led by Dr Reiner Wassmann of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and involved researchers in Vietnam (Cuu Long Rice Research Institute and Can Tho University), Australia (CSIRO), and local stakeholders in Vietnam. The project considered changes to inundation by fresh water, sea level rise, and changes in local weather conditions such as drought, to ensure ongoing productivity of the Mekong Delta. Adaptation approaches included plant breeding, irrigation management, prediction of saline water intrusion, cropping calendar adjustment, fertiliser use, landuse planning, and greenhouse gas emission abatement. An important part of the project was capacity building of the Vietnamese partners to enable them to be able to better adapt to future challenges. The Australian Government, through ACIAR, provided 3.9M (AUD) for the research, with substantial additional support from the participating organisations. The Final Report can be found here (, and the project website is here

Thursday, 17 March 2016

BeST Statistical online training for Africa

The Bespoke eStyle Statistical Training (BeST) for Africa and South Asia is part of a capacity building project to assist in upskilling and supporting scientists for farm and station research and extension projects. Research scientists and students interested in agricultural development may find this site useful as it contains online courses with software that can be used for designing studies and analysing data.

Friday, 11 March 2016

ACIAR welcomes the 2016 John Dillon Fellows to Canberra

This week ACIAR welcomed ten John Dillon Fellows to Canberra as part of a six-week leadership development program. During their two weeks in Canberra the fellows will spend time at ACIAR and visit the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and the Australian National University. They will meet also with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, at Parliament House and be presented with their certificates.

The John Dillon Fellows participating in a research management workshop at ACIAR House. Photo: ACIAR

ACIAR project providing opportunities for Lao and Australian wood manufacturers

As part of an ACIAR project in Laos local designers and students took part in a furniture design competition in November. The competition aimed to encourage Lao to develop innovative furniture designs that could provide opportunities for Lao wood manufacturers to better compete in international furniture markets. Winners of the competition were presented awards including a trip to Melbourne to undertake a furniture design course at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. 
Dr Barbara Ozarska presenting the furniture design award          

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Empowering women, changing lives: ACIAR celebrates International Women’s Day with the launch of the next issue of Partners magazine

Today ACIAR launched its International Women’s Day edition of Partners magazine during a morning tea to mark this important day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
ACIAR's Dr Jayne Curnow, Research Program Manager for Agricultural Systems Management, launches Partners magazine at a morning tea to celebrate International Women's Day. Photo: ACIAR
This edition of Partners, which includes forewords by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and the High Commissioner for Pakistan, Ms Naela Chohan, celebrates the key role women play in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries, and also recognises the importance of economically empowering women and girls around the world so they may become leaders, influencers and agents of change.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

John Allwright Fellow - postharvest technologies for Cambodian vegetable farmers

Dr Peter Horne
General Manager – ACIAR Country Programs

On a visit to Cambodia in December last year, one of our team recognised a young woman in the café where we had stopped for an essential coffee recharge. We struck up a conversation with Thida (Sambath Sonnthida) and she started talking passionately about her experiences as a John Allwright Fellow with ACIAR, which was a great surprise to us. Here is her story:

Vegetable production in Cambodia is insufficient to meet consumer demand. To overcome this shortage, Cambodia imports 40-60% of its vegetables from neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. During the peak season (February-March) however there is often an oversupply of locally produced vegetables. Farmers often have a difficult choice to make of either not harvesting their vegetables or selling them at a very low price. Product losses are also high, with farmers and other actors in the chain having limited knowledge on how to best manage the crop postharvest. Some postharvest technologies (such as cool storage) are also quiet costly.

Thida at work in the lab

Lab equipment making research possible in the Phillippines

Dr John Herbohn (University of the Sunshine Coast) stands outside the 
ACIAR-CFES Lab at Visayas State University 

The Analytical Laboratory
A modern, well-equipped analytical laboratory has been established within the College of Forestry and Environmental Sciences at Visayas State University (VSU).  It’s part of an ACIAR project aimed at Improving Watershed Rehabilitation Outcomes in the Philippines.  Lab operations are jointly overseen by Dr Angela S. Almendas-Ferraren (Department of Soil Science, VSU) and Dr Bob Congdon (James Cook University) and are
a vital aspect of the project. A full-time assistant has been employed and the lab has the capacity to analyze all soil, plant and water samples collected by research staff and graduate students working on the project. The lab is also available for use by other research students, filling a gap in analytical capacity at VSU.