The Food Loss Research Program is a partnership between ACIAR and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The A$3 million program works with partners in developing countries to address food loss through innovative, locally driven solutions.

A key focus of the program is gaining a deeper understanding of the drivers of food loss on a systemic level. Through its research, the program will uncover new approaches to prevent food loss in developing countries. The program aims to share and extend these learnings to help find more solutions to this global problem.

More specifically, the program will address value chain inefficiencies, poor communication systems and overall structural inequalities. The four projects that currently make up the program seek to:

  • Examine agricultural value chains within food systems at a provincial or local level in two or more countries in which ACIAR and/or IDRC work.
  • Conduct foresight exercises up to 2050 stipulating how value chains are likely to change given trends considering labour, technology, mechanisation, climate change, urban and rural density, and nutritional requirements.
  • Engage private agri-business along the value chain to document food loss they are experiencing and explore models of innovation for how food loss can be mitigated long term.
  • Assess interventions that are currently being used at a local scale across the value chain.
  • Assess factors that enable or prevent transferring intervention strategies from one location to another.

In aiming to uncover a new approach to food loss, the program has encouraged the involvement of people who have not worked with ACIAR or IDRC in the past. This has ensured that new stakeholders from diverse backgrounds are participating in the program. This will aid in understanding the food system in its entirety and help generate novel ideas for interventions to address food loss.

The starting line-up of projects under the program includes finding ways to reduce losses along the value chains of mango and tomatoes in Sri Lanka and Pakistan; horticultural produce in the Pacific region; and catfish in Vietnam and Lao PDR. Food loss affecting vulnerable urban communities in Zambia and Malawi will also be investigated.


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.