Monday, 23 December 2013

Success stories of socioeconomic research in Papua New Guinea

A recent workshop in Papua New Guinea (PNG) brought Australian and PNG project personnel together to learn from current and recent ACIAR socioeconomic work. Dr Caroline Lemerle, ACIAR’s Agricultural Systems Management research program manager, describes some of the successes of this work...

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Farming in the face of adversity, with improved wheat yields in Afghanistan

A new report shows how the Australian Government and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have linked together in one of the world’s most difficult environments, and are making a real difference to Afghan farmers and their families.
2 Afghani children holding wheat stalks
Afghan children with harvested wheat

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.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

IN THE FIELD - Going bananas in the Philippines

In November, Graduate Officer Bonnie Flohr travelled to Davao City, Mindanao in the Philippines as part of a team scoping future research that will help smallholder banana growers there, as well as banana growers in Australia... 

I travelled with representatives from Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (QDAFF) and from the Australian Banana Growers Council. We were all relieved to arrive at our intended destination despite the terrible destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan further north in the country a few days earlier. We arrived in Davao with a different problem on our minds, namely the destructive fungal disease Fusarium wilt (or Panama disease) that affects bananas. 

Banana packing shed in Mindanao

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Balancing the soil bank

On World Soil Day, 5 December, Dr Gamini Keerthisinghe, manager of ACIAR’s Soil Management and Crop Nutrition research program, shares his view on the importance of soil and how ACIAR’s work is helping farmers improve it.

Soils are like a bank account. You can withdraw what you have, but once the nutrients have been depleted, you need to replace them.

Maintaining a healthy soil balance is fundamental for successful and sustainable farming.  Improving soil pays off by giving farmers generous yield gains, which can help boost their incomes dramatically.

ACIAR's is helping farmers in Southern Philippines improve their soils and their incomes

Monday, 2 December 2013

Terrific tomatoes, perfect peppers - Detective guide for better vegies

Australian and Cambodian farmers and gardeners now have a great new tool for growing healthy tomatoes, capsicums, chillies and eggplants, thanks to a new field guide. The guide is likely to be useful to many smallholder farmers in other countries as well. Co-author Dr Sandra McDougall explains how the guide came about...

Cambodian vegetable growers in western Sydney, Australia are a committed group of growers, producing food for their families and local markets. As with many new migrant market gardeners, they have helped each other set up their farms, are located in a small area, and are mostly growing similar crops: cherry tomatoes, chillies, capsicums and eggplants, as well as snow peas.  

Cherry tomatoes (Photo: S. McDougall)

Thursday, 28 November 2013

IN THE FIELD - Charcoal production in Papua New Guinea

Tony Bartlett, ACIAR’s Forestry Research Program Manager, recently travelled to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to see how our research has helped establish community groups that produce and sell charcoal...

About  85% of households in PNG still use fuelwood for cooking, with the average use being six times more than most countries in the Asia-Pacific region. So, fuelwood is an integral part of PNG’s domestic economy. There is a clear opportunity for smallholder farmers (like Tom pictured below) to make money from growing and selling fuelwood from their own tree plantations.
Farmer Tom (left) with researcher Dr Ian Nuberg
in Tom's fuelwood tree patch

Monday, 25 November 2013

Growing our knowledge and the world's farmers

Matt Linnegar
(Hilary Wardaugh Photography)
The latest edition of ACIAR’s Flagship publication—‘Partners in research for development’—was issued today. Part of the Australian Government’s Development Assistance program, ACIAR manages agricultural research projects to address problems of mutual interest and benefit to both developing countries and Australia. The bumper edition includes many examples of how ACIAR’s portfolio of research projects has helped the livelihoods of smallholder farmers overseas, while providing benefits back home. Matt Linnegar, CEO of the National Farmers’ Federation provides an in-depth editorial outlining the significant benefits ACIAR provides in the domestic arena. An excerpt of his editorial follows. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Commending an industry legend on World Fisheries Day

Cletus Oengpepa - in his element
(photo: Frederique Olivier)
World Fisheries Day, November 21, is celebrated throughout the world by fishing communities. It is fitting that this year, on his retirement, we commend the contributions to fisheries research from Mr Cletus Oengpepa.

Cletus, WorldFish research station manager at Gizo in the Western Province of Solomon Islands, has been a valuable partner with ACIAR more than two decades. He has been an inspiration in his efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and resource management in the Pacific Island region.

"Cletus Oengpepa is a mentor, a leader, a colleague and friend," said Delvene Boso, Country Manager for WorldFish in the Solomon Islands. Her words were echoing how Cletus was described by colleagues in a farewell luncheon held to mark his final week with WorldFish.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Photovoice speaking up on water issues in India

Water is a key issue in Rajasthan and Gujarat states in India. As part of ACIAR research on groundwater management in these states, we have explored villagers’ relationships with groundwater, agriculture and livelihood through photography.
Children drinking water at school  (Photo: M. Chew)
Michael Chew, a postgraduate student from the University of Western Sydney, used an approach called 'Photovoice'. This involved teaching local villagers to take photos around their villages and farms, so they could capture images that demonstrated their current views and future hopes for water access.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Global hunger and resilience – one part of the puzzle

The International Food Policy ResearchInstitute (IFPRI) has recently released the 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI). The GHI uses an amalgamated score across three measures to rank countries and regions on a 100 point scale. The higher the index score the more dire the levels of hunger or to put it another way, the greater the prevalence of food insecurity within a country. 

The three measures – each equally weighted – are:
  • Proportion of people who are undernourished
  • Proportion of children younger than 5 years who are underweight
  • Child mortality rates for children under 5 years

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Let the sunshine in - growing crops and teak trees in Lao PDR

ACIAR research is shining light, literally, on how to successfully grow crops and teak together in Lao PDR...

Many smallholder farmers in the Luang Prabang region of northern Lao PDR are growing teak. At least 25,000 hectares of teak has been planted over the last 20 years. Current government policies support the continued expansion of new teak plantings. In most cases, farmers plant 1800-2500 trees per hectare and farm the land between the trees for 3 or 4 years. By that time the tree canopies block out sunlight and inhibit growth of plants underneath. This can make life difficult for farmers who don’t have enough land to grow crops somewhere else while their teak trees mature to a size of high value.

Another problem for farmers is that in the absence of good markets for small teak logs, they are reluctant to thin out densely-planted teak forests, even though this maximises growth and improves the quality of the remaining trees. So, how can research help farmers overcome these issues?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Research must meet the needs of young people

ACIAR’s Principal Advisor Dr Simon Hearn recently attended a workshop in Pakistan on youth and agriculture. He says the key message centred on the need for agricultural research providing opportunities for youth...

Many developing countries have a large number of rural youth looking to improve their lives. To capitalise on this, agricultural research needs to have practical applications and provide opportunities for young people.

Meeting the challenges of engaging youth in agriculture and related industries, to produce future regional food needs, is a high priority of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI).

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ponds for prosperity in Papua New Guinea

There’s more to constructing a pond than just digging a hole and filling it with water—just ask Francis Gako, who has been helping out with an ACIAR project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) aiming to improve smallholders’ fish production for food security and income generation. 

bagful of fish
Tilapia farming in PNG can improve food security and generate income
(Photo: F. Gako)
There are more than 10,000 small-scale fish farms in PNG, and interest in aquaculture is growing fast. The PNG government has recognised the important role of fish in food security, particularly in inland areas. However, despite the peoples’ interest in aquaculture, current production levels are low when compared with other South-East Asian systems.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Information for Development

Recognising World Development Information Day (24 October), Joanna Hicks, ACIAR's Knowledge Manager, explains that ICT and KM are more than just acronyms. 

Information and knowledge are crucial to ACIAR and play a large role in the success of our projects. We are fortunate to have highly-respected experts from across many scientific disciplines and dedicated in-country and local support teams. The knowledge and experience gained over 30 years of funding and managing agricultural research projects and programs, across many countries, allows us to produce consistently positive outcomes and measurable impact. 
Young farmers in Pakistan trialling ACIAR's 'Seeing is Believing' app.
Photo courtesy of Rob Fitzgerald, University of Canberra

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A vibrant Papua New Guinea – bold thinking can make it possible

Last year ACIAR’s Partners Magazine ran a special edition on Papua New Guinea (PNG) and our program of research helping smallholder farmers to overcome poverty. An underlying theme was that of optimism, from the scientists and farmers, that agriculture could help create a brighter future for many.

Last week the ANZ Bank released its latest ANZ insight series report, Bold Thinking: Imagining PNG in the Asia Century. The report examines key opportunities for PNG in mining and agriculture to “drive forward a vision of a vibrant, dynamic PNG”.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Remembering General Vo Nguyen Giap

This story is extracted from the Australian Embassy in Vietnam's facebook post acknowledging General Vo Nguyen Giap's contribution to the Vietnamese people. General Vo Nguyen Giap was a strong supporter of Australia-Vietnam cooperation in agriculture. He passed away earlier this month at age 102. Here is the original post.
General Giap with former ACIAR Director, Dr Rothschild

Friday, 18 October 2013

IN THE FIELD - Bouncing back with rubber plantations in Indonesia

On a recent trip to Indonesia, ACIAR’s Forestry Research Program manager Tony Bartlett saw how smallholder farmers are benefiting from working with a large forestry company on their community-owned land...
Sijambu village and project staff meeting with community leaders
ACIAR forestry research led by the University of Tasmania is investigating ways to increase productivity and profitability of smallholder plantations in Indonesia, particularly in South Sumatra, Riau and West Kalimantan. Large-scale commercial plantations of Eucalyptus pellita and Acacia mangium are being grown here for use as pulpwood. Under government policy, future expansion of plantations will largely be on land allocated to communities. As such, it is important that we understand how community members can best benefit from commercial forestry on their land.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Women working wonders in Vietnam

Mrs Nguyen Thi Oanh and Mrs Bui Thi Hob
who grow indigenous vegetables in NW Vietnam
(Photo: Vu Thi Hai Hau)
Celebrating International Day of Rural Women, 15 October, Mandy Gyles brings us the story of women growing and marketing indigenous vegetables in Vietnam.

“Since joining the co-operative and learning new production skills our crop has been increasing and our income has grown three fold,” said Mrs Nguyen Thi Oanh (pictured left), a Vietnamese farmer who is now harvesting and selling 100-220 bunches of indigenous vegetables daily.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Pistachio and pulse production - Improving use of water catchments in Afghanistan

A 4-year project to help restore water catchments, improve catchment management, and in turn enhance rural livelihoods in Afghanistan is underway. The Australian Government and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) have partnered together on this project with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).
The Mazar catchment site is being rehabilitated in this
community-based project (Photo: J. Rizvi)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Zeroing in on no-till farming in Iraq

Conservation agriculture can bring significant returns to farmers, particularly in dry regions. The principles were first introduced to Australian farming back in the 1960’s, and we have been reaping the benefits ever since. An Australian Government-funded project is aiming to bring similar benefits to smallholder farmers in the drylands of northern Iraq, through testing and promoting conservation cropping technologies.

Research is helping farmers cope
with dry and dusty soils in Iraq (Photo: S. Loss)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A touching insight into life in Fiji

Two video clips about the Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) and the people it benefits have just been produced. This blog is from Communication Officer Julie Lloyd on her travels to Fiji for the filming...

How does a person feel when, for the first time, they step into a part of the South Pacific and experience firsthand, a unique environment that is rarely exposed? As Communication Officer for the Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) who recently visited some of the more remote and traditional farming areas of Fiji, I can say it is an eye-opening yet rewarding experience. From the minute I arrived in Nadi on a hot Sunday afternoon in August, until I departed six days later, my head and heart were bursting at the seams absorbing a country and a culture of people who do it tough but at the same time reflect a sense of pride and generosity.

Fijian boy with breadfruit
Fijian boy with breadfruit at Sigatoka market (photo: J. Lloyd)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Keeping pigs happy and healthy

JAF student Denise Dayao
This is our second blog for 'JAF Week' this week at ACIAR, celebrating the achievements of our John Allwright Fellowship students...

Ms Denise Ann Dayao from the Philippines is a John Allwright Fellowship PhD student at the University of Queensland, conducting research on bacteria that can cause serious respiratory disease in pigs. Her work on antibiotic resistance in these bacteria is proving valuable to the Australian and Philippine pig industry in developing effective ways to prevent and control disease.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Quest for the perfect avocado

This week is 'JAF Week' at ACIAR, where many of our international PhD and Masters students supported by John Allwright Fellowships (JAF) come to Canberra to receive training in communicating research, and to network with ACIAR staff and fellow JAF students.

Muhammad Sohail Mazhar of Pakistan was awarded a fellowship to do a PhD on avocado supply chains, at the University of Queensland. His specific area of research is investigating bruising of Hass avocados.
Everybody loves a perfect avocado!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Mutual benefits through ACIAR's advisory council

ACIAR’s Policy Advisory Council, which includes 11 eminent agricultural research leaders from partner countries, just completed their annual visit to Australia. The trip included their annual meeting at ACIAR headquarters in Canberra and a visit to South Australia to see a showcase of agricultural production and research.

ACIAR Policy Advisory Council members
with ACIAR review team members Sept 2013

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

IN THE FIELD - What do zebras and maize have in common?

[Dr Evan Christen, ACIAR's Land & Water Resources Program Manager, recently investigated irrigation issues being faced by smallholder farmers in south-eastern Africa, to be addressed in a new ACIAR project...]  

What do zebras and maize in Tanzania have in common? They both need water from the Great Ruaha River.
Zebras and maize crops in Tanzania both need access to the Ruaha River

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The race against rust in wheat

 In recognition of outstanding research in the fight against wheat rust diseases, researchers of the Australian Cereal Rust Control Team were recently awarded the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative’s Gene Stewardship prize in New Delhi, India. A couple of CSIRO’s top young researchers are part of the team of scientists involved in the race against rust.
Healthy wheat is vital to global food security

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cultivating crops that cope with drought

ACIAR research is helping farmers here and in developing countries face the increasing challenge of producing more food with less water, as drought-prone farming conditions become more common. Many of the environments in the countries we work in have limited water availability, climate extremes and climate variability from year to year. A multifaceted research approach is needed to give farmers a range of solutions to keep their crops growing, especially through the dry periods.
farmer in dry dusty field
Many farmers, such as this one in Afghanistan, face enormous
challenges of dealing with drought (Photo: D. Pearce)

Monday, 9 September 2013

ACIAR welcomes Dr Ejaz Qureshi as new Research Program Manager

ACIAR welcomes a new member to its team: Dr Ejaz Qureshi, Research Program Manager for the Agriculture Development Policy program.

Dr Qureshi has had more than 15 years experience dealing with natural resources management and associated policies. His field career spans across the globe from the wheat belt in Punjab, Pakistan to China’s Yellow River Basin, and his policy-focused work has been applied in major urban and regional areas across Australia and overseas. He has published and contributed to over 100 papers and journals, including being a guest editor of Journal of Hydrogeology for its special issue on economics of ground water management, and associate editor of the Journal of Hydrology.

Friday, 30 August 2013

IN THE FIELD - Going loco for cocowood

Forestry Research Program Manager Tony Bartlett recently visited Fiji to check progress on an ACIAR project on coconut wood (cocowood). The research is aiming to improve the livelihoods of people in the South Pacific through making use of senile coconut trees.
felled senile coconut tree
Senile coconut trees can make valuable wood products

Monday, 26 August 2013

Protecting against parasites in the modern world

The world is becoming more and more connected, both physically and technologically. Prolific travel and trade within and between countries and continents allows disease-causing organisms like parasites to hitch a ride almost anywhere. Parasitic diseases can be devastating to the animals they infest, and to the people who rely on those animals for their livelihoods. ACIAR-supported research looks at ways to improve the identification and control parasitic diseases to help stop their spread.
Healthy livestock provide food and income opportunities

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Bringing HOPES to horticulture farmers in the Philippines

ACIAR research in the southern Philippines is improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers growing fruit and vegetables, through investigating horticulture, people and soil (HOPES). Recent research has provided useful insights to help farmers cope with pests, diseases and harsh weather; to grow their crops sustainably; and to improve their profits.
2 people holding vegetable harvest
Boie Gerona (vegetable grower) and Zenaida Gonzaga (Visaya State University)
show off the harvest from a successfully protected crop
(Photo: Gordon Rogers)

Friday, 16 August 2013

IN THE FIELD - In search of 'soil security' in the Pacific islands

Dr Richard Markham, ACIAR's Research Program Manager for Pacific Crops, recently visited Kiribati to check progress on a project aiming to improve the health of the local people and their soil...
Atolls like Kiribati may look appealing to visitors, but achieving food security
can present a serious challenge to the inhabitants, especially in the face of climate change

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Young researcher forages for answers

In the final post of a 3-part series to help celebrate National Science Week, we're profiling ACIAR Graduate Officers. Our 'grads' help demonstrate the variety and opportunity a career in agricultural science can provide.
Bonnie Flohr pictured in front of the oldest agricultural fields of Tibet
Each year ACIAR hires recently-graduated students from Universities across Australia. Bonnie Flohr is one of three graduates from various science fields to work in our research programs. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Young scientists getting down and dirty

In the second post of a 3-part series to help celebrate National Science Week, we're profiling ACIAR Graduate Officers. Our 'grads' help demonstrate the variety and opportunity a career in agricultural science can provide.

Jack Koci collecting soil samples for nutrient analysis in northern Queensland

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

All creatures great and small

In the first post of a 3-part series to help celebrate National Science Week, we're profiling ACIAR Graduate Officers. Our 'grads' help demonstrate the variety and opportunity a career in agricultural science can provide.
Dr Emma Zalcman is a young Australian scientist working for all creatures great and small
Each year ACIAR hires recently-graduated students from Universities across Australia. Emma Zalcman is one of three graduates from various science fields to work in our research programs.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Collaborating for Cambodian cattle farmers

Cambodia is well placed to take advantage of the increased demand for beef that is currently outstripping supply in the Greater Mekong Subregion. The uptake of new technologies and practices will enable many smallholder farmers to move up a notch from being livestock ‘keepers’ to ‘producers’, to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods.
Farmer with steer in forage trial (photo Luzia Rast)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Growing more food, efficiently and sustainably

While visiting projects in Laos, Dr John Dixon relays to readers how farmers are trying out conservation agriculture. This post coincides with the publishing of the winter issue of ACIAR's magazine, Partners in research for development, which focuses on the dryland agriculture revolution.
Local farmer Malkeet Singh with his 'Happy Seeder' in northern India.
The Happy Seeder represents a breakthrough for farmers across India’s north-west rice-wheat cropping zone both in terms of conservation agriculture (CA ) benefits and other benefits directly to farmers.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Enduring research partnerships with Pakistan

Last month Prof. Talat Naseer Pasha, Vice Chancellor of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) in Lahore, Pakistan, visited ACIAR to discuss continuing partnerships with Australian universities.

(Left to right) Mr Baxter, Prof Pasha, Dr Austin and Dr Horne at ACIAR headquarters, Canberra.
UVAS is one of ACIAR’s key partners involved in dairy research under the AusAID-supported Australia–PakistanAgriculture Sector Linkages Program

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A picture’s worth a thousand words – using photos in social research in Pakistan

‘Visual ethnography’ involves the use of photos as an aid in education and workshopping.  This technique has recently been successfully used to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of poverty in Pakistan, particularly related to mango, citrus and dairy farmers.  This social research forms part of a larger research program (Australia–Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Program, ASLP), which aims to improve livelihoods of the rural poor in Pakistan through enhancing the dairy, mango and citrus industries.
Pakistani women looking at photos
Women discussing citrus value chain issues
at a workshop in a citrus-growing village near Faisalabad

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Socioeconomic research in PNG is changing lives

PNG smallholder farmer
Last month, ACIAR’s Agricultural Systems Management program manager, Dr Caroline Lemerle brought together the many researchers involved in socioeconomic aspects of agricultural research in Papua New Guinea (PNG). At the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) Headquarters in Lae, 40 researchers represented 8 ACIAR projects, past and present. Over two days, participants discussed their projects, the constraints they faced, the outputs they achieved and the lessons learned.

The projects covered a range of commodities, including vegetables, coffee, floriculture, coffee and oil palm, across a range of geographies such as Western Highlands, Central Province and New Britain. Over the two days participants compared constraints faced in East New Britain with those in the Highlands, and the lessons learned in coffee and oil palm with those in sweetpotato and vegetable crops.

Friday, 26 July 2013

IN THE FIELD: Sand, sand everywhere–but it’s Vietnam, not the Sahara!

Dr Evan Christen, ACIAR’s Research Program Manager for Land and Water Resources, recently travelled to Vietnam to scope for an upcoming project on effectively farming in sandy soils. He explains the process involved in identifying the farmers’ needs and developing the project’s focus...

Dr Evan Christen with Vietnamese farmer, Mr Tuyen

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Casting an eye over Indonesian fish catches

A new manual for identifying Indonesia’s bony fishes has just been published. It provides a valuable source of information for fishers and managers in the world's most species-rich marine area.

fish book cover
The publication is available at:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

ACIAR Commission's visit to Indonesia

The Commission for International Agricultural Research visited Indonesia 17-21 June, to witness firsthand ACIAR-related activities in one of our most important partner countries. The visit also coincided with the 30th anniversary of Indonesia–ACIAR partnerships. They visited Jakarta, East Java and Bali.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Afghani farming systems program meets up in New Delhi

The inaugural program oversight meeting for Improving the Productivity of Afghan Farming Systems in Water Scarce Environments was recently held in New Delhi, India. ACIAR staff member Joy Hardman gives this report...

This AusAID-funded program for Afghanistan includes three ACIAR projects researching sustainable wheat and maize production, integrated catchment management, and livestock forage options, all with the aim of improving the livelihoods of Afghani smallholder farmers.

Afghani farmer with maize harvest

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Partnerships around the world

I have been busy compiling a collection of ACIAR’s finest photos, so have been sifting through the multitudes of our images. I was completely astounded as I trekked through these images and travelled across time and continents. The sheer variety of the organisation’s work never fails to amaze, with their helping hands reaching from the arid plains of Africa to the lush forests of the Pacific Islands.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Top of the Crops! Top 10 nutritious leafy vegetables in the Pacific

An ACIAR-funded study on nutritionally rich leafy vegetables in the Pacific region has identified the ‘Top 10’ and produced a series of fact sheets to promote them to indigenous communities. The study’s goal is to encourage the production and consumption of these important food crops, to help combat the current epidemic of diet-related diseases in Pacific islanders and indigenous Australians.
Aibika for sale in markets in Suva, Fiji
Photo R Goebel

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

ACIAR's Laos office opens doors

Our country office in Lao PDR was officially launched last month. The office is the hub for ACIAR work in the Mekong countries and China region. Being set up at the Australian embassy in Vientiane helps to enhance the close engagement between ACIAR and AusAID programs assisting Lao development.

Friday, 5 July 2013

IN THE FIELD – Myanmar in a new era

(in-country visits by ACIAR’s research managers)

The children we met were not shy from the camera.
Gyoke Pin Village in the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar.
Photo by Jenny Hanks
In June, ACIAR’s ­ Principal Regional Coordinator for Mekong countries and China, Dr Gamini Keerthsinghe, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to implement a research project in a country ACIAR has been working with for over a decade. The smallholder farmers and rural poor are set to benefit from opportunities for the Australian Government to work at a greater level of cooperation with the Government of Myanmar, which is undergoing a period of ambitious reform that is unprecedented in its recent history...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Gold medal performance for ACIAR’s Fisheries Program

ACIAR’s Fisheries Program was recently presented with a gold medal from the Asian Fisheries Society (AFS), in recognition of its outstanding contribution to fisheries research and development throughout South East Asia over the past two decades.

Barney Smith (right) receiving the AFS Gold Medal,
presented by the then AFS President Derek Staples

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Giving power to African farmers

This article has been extracted from the latest issue of the newsletter produced by the Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC). The AIFSC is a centre within ACIAR. You can subscribe to receive AIFSC newsletters directly.  
A female farmer using two-wheel tractor fitted with a
Chinese-designed conservation agriculture planter.
Photo credit CIMMYT

While farmers in the rest of the world have seen the power available to them increase dramatically over the past decades, for most African farmers it has stagnated, and often declined. Indeed, the numbers of tractors and draught animals on the continent have decreased, making back-breaking manual work a main feature of African agriculture. 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

IN THE FIELD - The power of pulses in Bangladesh

(in-country visits by ACIAR’s research managers)
In February, ACIAR’s Crop Improvement & Management program manager, Dr Eric Huttner, visited Bangladesh to check on progress of ACIAR projects in the region. Here he describes the research with pulses, which is aiming to improve people’s nutrition as well as provide benefits to the soil and livestock...
A young girl holds a basket of weeds with which to feed livestock

Friday, 21 June 2013

IN THE FIELD – Making the most out of water for women in the eastern IGP (Indo Gangetic Plains)

(in-country visits by ACIAR’s research managers)

This month ACIAR’s Land and Water Resources program manager, Dr Evan Christen, visited the eastern Indo Gangetic Plains (IGP) region in northern India to scope the scene for an upcoming research project. He says the region faces many challenges, but there is hope for improving the livelihoods of the local people, particularly woman, through better water management...

Indian women and girl sitting

Friday, 14 June 2013

IN THE FIELD - Chickens changing the lives of villagers in Tanzania

(in-country visits by ACIAR’s research managers)

In July last year ACIAR's Dr Wendy Henderson had the privilege to travel to Tanzania to witness firsthand the amazing impact of an ACIAR-funded vaccine against Newcastle Disease in chickens. 
ACIAR's Dr Wendy Henderson in Tanzania

Thursday, 13 June 2013

You say "Sweetpotato"...

ACIAR-funded research in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has led to the recent publication of a best-practice manual for growing healthy sweetpotatoes. Project leader Michael Hughes describes how the successes of Australian research have been passed on to improve the livelihoods of PNG farmers...
Project leader Mike Hughes with the upcoming generation of PNG farmers