Date released
03 July 2018

Private sector investment in the agricultural value chain is key to opening new doors and fresh opportunities. Partnering with the private sector and other development agencies, ACIAR opens doors for entrepreneurs.

One of ACIAR’s important partners for engaging with the private sector is Melbourne based Business for Development (B4D), a non-government organisation with a mission to build business partnerships that tackle extreme poverty.

By equipping smallholder farmers with the appropriate economic tools and partnering with the private sector, ACIAR and B4D have developed strategic pathways that connect farmers and their families to new commercial opportunities.

The CSE/2011/077 Sustainable and Resilient Farming Systems Intensification (SRFSI) project has identified and adapted technologies for Conservation Agriculture Systems Intensification (CASI) based in Eastern India, Bangladesh and Nepal. For the adoption of these technologies, farmers require services including machinery, production and knowledge. ACIAR is working with Business for Development (B4D) to design and test business models that will drive the private sector scaling of these technologies in the region. The out-scaling project aims to impact 1.5 million smallholder wheat, maize and rice farmers over five to ten years, with the adoption of new technologies leading to increased productivity and incomes at farmer level. The longer-term goal for the private sector out-scaling project is to impact 15 million smallholder farmers in the region.

B4D, in partnership with Innovative Change Collaboration (ICCo), completed a series of business missions and research in 2016 as part of a design phase that explored pathways and business models for private sector out-scaling. A report was presented to ACIAR at the end of 2016 that provided a situation analysis, identified barriers to out-scaling and adoption, and proposed a range of possible market system solutions, including an analysis of potential partners.

Subsequently, B4D was contracted to project manage a trial of a multi-channel, whole value chain approach through the implementation of an innovative private sector agribusiness out-scaling model, using a network of Farmer Service Company and micro-entrepreneur centres that have been set up and trialled in Purnea in the first half of 2017. B4D is project managing the implementation of the trial agribusiness model in partnership with Green Agrevolution. The trial involves the establishment and evaluation of a Farmer Service Company and 5 micro-entrepreneur centres in Purnea as a vehicle to out-scale access to machinery, inputs and knowledge for farmers. Farmers expressed enthusiasm to adopt the new farming methodologies, especially as this reduces the farmer’s dependence on external labour.

“Our collaboration with ACIAR provided a well researched foundation for the adoption and scale out of technologies that ultimately increased farmer incomes,” said Mark Igrnam, B4D CEO. “The technology has now been integrated into commercial farmer support agencies to ensure sustainability and accelerate adoption in India and Bangladesh.”


These four B4D projects were concerned with developing the pearl and seaweed industries in a number of partner countries including Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Kiribati. Of specific focus was the need to improve pearl husbandry techniques along the entire production line, along with opening up new opportunities via segmentation of the pearl industry. For seaweed, the project aimed at diversifying the activities and opportunities available to the industry in the Pacific Islands, and to make the local industry in each partner country more resilient to both external and internal changes. All four projects have now been completed and met their scientific milestones to ensure more developed and diversified local industries for harvesting pearled oysters and seaweed, with local fishers and their families being the key beneficiaries.


This multi-country program focuses on managing the overuse of water resources in Bangladesh and the West Bengal of India to mitigate the impact of climate change for family farmers. The project, which commenced in 2016 and is due for completion in 2020, has four main impact pathways. First, working with NGOs to engage with, empower, and mobilise marginalised community segments, in particular women, landless, and tribal minorities. The second pathway entails drawing on initial findings to better target interventions or to ensure that agricultural intensification practices do not result in unintended consequences for marginalised households. The third impact pathway involves association with a number of key donor-funded programs and government initiatives. Lastly, the fourth pathway works with private sector boundary partners to build a framework that can be implemented to support rural communities. It is anticipated that this project will provide more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable agricultural intensification in West Bengal and Bangladesh.


Running from 2017 to 2021, this four-year project builds on the Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI), an earlier four-year project aimed at improving marketing opportunities and boosting agribusiness within the Pacific Islands. Focusing on Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu, PARDI 2 aims to strengthen PARDI’s engagement with other ACIAR projects. The project will study why and how agribusiness developments have succeeded, document how they benefit community livelihoods, and investigate how to extend and make their economic benefits more inclusive and sustainable. The project also aims to identify and overcome constraints and bottlenecks in value and supply chains for primary products. Within five years of its conclusion, PARDI 2 is expected to have developed the capacity for growing at least ten existing agribusinesses and creating at least ten new agribusinesses, with at least half operated or managed by women. The project also hopes to have shown enhanced benefits that flow to rural communities from agribusiness developments.