Australia has a clear national interest in the security, stability and prosperity of Sub-Saharan Africa. African countries are important in global economic and political terms, including in relation to addressing economic growth, trade liberalization, agricultural productivity and food security, trans-national crime, disarmament, international terrorism and United Nations reform. Many African economies are prospering, presenting increasing opportunities for trade and investment-led development gains.
—Aid Investment Plan, Sub-Saharan Africa, 2015–2019, DFAT
Africa contains a greater proportion of poor people than any other global region, and has a low Human Development Index and high levels of food insecurity.
Eastern and southern Africa is the most food-insecure region in the world. One in four people suffers from chronic hunger. Low food crop productivity, rising food prices, increasing fuel costs, climate change and deteriorating agricultural research capacity have worsened food and nutrition security.
For three decades ACIAR projects have delivered research outputs, impacts and capacity to the region. ACIAR has programs in:
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Under ACIAR’s 10-year strategic plan, up to 15% of ACIAR’s total budget for the 2017–18 financial year will be targeted at Africa.
Africa’s rural population is growing, and agriculture is important in gross domestic product (GDP) and food security. As African economies grow, more effective agricultural markets and trade are making farms more productive in many countries. Skills shortages, food insecurity and low agricultural productivity, however, limit the region’s economic growth.
Africa can benefit from Australian agricultural science. Africa and Australia share similar environmental constraints, such as poor soils and climatic variability. Australia has also met challenges to food security, including poor livestock nutrition, weak adoption of new technologies and low levels of farmer participation in the agricultural value chain.
Australia’s free-market orientation and effective architecture of agricultural research can also benefit Africa. Just as Australian miners have invested in African resources, so Australian farmers want to invest in African agriculture.
- Water management in rainfed and irrigated systems
- Improving food crops
- Cropping systems resilience and management, including conservation agriculture
- Diversifying horticultural production and strengthening market linkages for improved smallholder livelihoods and better nutrition
- Ruminant and poultry disease management and production
- Fisheries management
- Agroforestry systems and innovation platforms
- Grain, livestock and forestry value chains, especially improved smallholder access to input and produce markets