Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF) is a partnership between ACIAR and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) that leverages the strengths and resources of each organisation to improve overall food and nutrition security across Eastern and Southern Africa. The partnership represents an AU$37million investment between 2013 and 2023.

The main objective of CultiAF is to improve food and nutrition security in Eastern and Southern Africa by funding applied research to develop and scale-up sustainable, climate resilient and gender responsive innovations for smallholder producers.

Developing practical and sustainable solutions

CultiAF supports applied research that builds the capacity of stakeholders to generate practical, lasting solutions that are economically viable, socially acceptable, and environmentally sustainable.

Research topics include nutritive value-added products, post-harvest storage technologies, crop insurance, irrigation, and women and youth entrepreneurship, among others. Researchers are engaging the private sector, young and women entrepreneurs, and policy makers through business models that can take these innovations to scale.

Innovations to enhance women’s productivity, nutrition and income

CultiAF funds research that responds to the needs of men, women, and young people and has the potential to transform inequitable gender relations. Research focuses on enterprises that are important for women: fisheries, poultry and pig production, beans, sorghum, and water for production. Research activities are based on strong gender and social analysis.

They address inequalities in underlying social norms and in men’s and women’s ability to access and manage resources and make decisions. Technologies and products being tested, such as precooked beans and solar dryers, have the potential to increase women’s income and reduce the workload and drudgery involved in producing and processing food.

Engaging youth in entrepreneurship

The agricultural sector has potential to provide employment for rural and urban youth. It would also benefit from the resourcefulness, technological savviness, and organizational skills of young people. CultiAF projects are actively engaging youth, building their capacity and entrepreneurship to take new innovative business models to scale.

Private sector engagement

CultiAF-supported researchers are engaging with the private sector, NGOs and civil society organizations early in the research design to foster innovative partnerships that provide insights on markets and product development; extension delivery mechanisms; and pathways for policy engagement. The research teams develop and test innovative business models to move the results of the research to a large scale.

Our projects

The portfolio of nine CultiAF research projects cuts across four research themes: increasing productivity and reducing post-harvest losses; advancing gender equality; linking agriculture, nutrition and human health; and climate change and agricultural water management.

These projects are being implemented by research teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is the Australian Government’s specialist agricultural research-for-development agency within the Australian aid program. The purpose of ACIAR is to contribute to reducing poverty and improving the livelihoods of many in the Indo-Pacific region through more productive and sustainable agriculture emerging from collaborative international research.

About IDRC

As part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, IDRC champions and funds research and innovation within and alongside developing regions to drive global change. They invest in high quality-research in developing countries, share knowledge with researchers and policymakers for greater uptake and use, and mobilise their global alliances to build a more sustainable and inclusive world.