More information about the overarching objectives of each research program and a short biography of each research program manager is available on the ACIAR website. > What we do
Through longstanding partnerships with many countries in the Indo-Pacific region, ACIAR supports collaborative research on productivity, resilience, sustainability and equity in agriculture, forestry and fisheries systems to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods.
The work of ACIAR is organised into 4 regions of operation in the Indo-Pacific. Within each region, we facilitate a varied program of research and capacity building, reflecting the challenges and opportunities of a region and individual countries.
Our work is broadly characterised by global research collaborations bilateral and regional projects and scientific and policy capacity-building programs. An Outreach Program raises awareness and communicates impact and results through several platforms.
To maximise our effectiveness as an agricultural research-for-development agency, ACIAR builds and maintains partnerships with in-country agencies and organisations. These partnerships are managed by the ACIAR Country Network, which comprises 23 locally engaged staff, based in 11 offices across the Indo-Pacific region.
ACIAR identifies research priorities collaboratively with partner countries, and the Research Program brokers research partnerships and projects to tackle those priorities. Our Research Program Managers work closely with the ACIAR Country Network to build connections and relationships with in-country organisations and institutions, and to ensure that the research aligns with partner-country priorities.
During 2023–24, 169 projects will be active in our operational area. These projects are collaborations between Australian and international scientists.
To ensure our effectiveness as a partner of choice across the regions in which we operate, ACIAR builds and maintains partnerships with in-country agencies and organisations supported by the ACIAR Country Network.
The ACIAR Country Network develops and maintains the strategic directions of our investments with in-country partner agencies. The network manages relationships, communication, coordination and administration of activities within the countries where ACIAR operates.
The Country Network also supports partner research institutions to develop, establish and administer activity related to research collaboration and capacity building. Our Country Network is a vital link between Australian and international researchers and the relevant in-country research agencies.
Many of our country partnerships are undergoing rapid change as local research capacity grows and the ability of countries to fund research increases. At the same time, global challenges inevitably continue to affect the ability and extent to which our partner agencies can participate in research collaboration. The Country Network closely monitors and supports our in-country partners to navigate the challenges they face in engaging with research. Ongoing changes in circumstances mean our Country Network needs to be nimble and flexible when engaging with partner agencies.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Country Network upskilled in partnership brokering and knowledge management, equipping our overseas staff with the necessary skills, tools and plans to maintain relationships with our partner agencies during the pandemic and re-engage fully as quickly as possible after the pandemic. Training will continue during 2023–24 and the Country Network is now skilled and empowered to lead partnership discussions, with the support of ACIAR staff based in Canberra.
Over the next 2 years, ACIAR, led by the Country Network, plans to work with in-country partners to reinvigorate existing and develop new long-term partnership agreements. Country/regional strategies for research priorities that are necessary to underpin partnerships will also be renewed, and these will be driven by the Country Network in alignment with partnership discussions.
ACIAR partner countries are increasingly involved in the design of projects and capacity-building programs, with countries now regularly co-investing alongside ACIAR at different levels in accordance with their capacity. Priority countries for the development of new partnerships over this period include Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In all countries and regions, the Country Network will continue to be closely engaged with partners and nurturing partnerships, taking into consideration the prevailing circumstances in each country.
ACIAR Country Network staff are located in the offices of Australian high commissions or embassies in the following countries:
* One ACIAR staff member is located in Myanmar, but the location is a remote site of the regional office in Laos, not an ACIAR Country Office.
More information about our Country Network is available on the ACIAR website. > Where we work
ACIAR works with scientists in Australia, in partner countries and in international research centres around the world to use science and technology to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, and their families and communities, as well as the sustainability of food systems throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
Our work in each partner country and within our 4 regions is determined through dialogue and consultation between ACIAR and in-country partners, with research partners. ACIAR-supported research addresses the specific challenges and opportunities arising in local environments and builds on established relationships.
Our research portfolio is organised into 10 programs:
The development of projects within and across programs is guided by the objectives of the ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027. We identify research priorities collaboratively with partner countries, and broker research partnerships and projects to tackle those priorities. Once projects are established, we manage and monitor these investments throughout the research process to maximise impact and return on investment.
Research projects developed as bilateral and regional partnerships are led by a commissioned organisation (such as an Australian university, CSIRO, state government agency or private firm) or an international agricultural research centre or partner-country research agency. The projects are a collaboration between the commissioned organisation, other Australian or international research providers and in-country organisations. We work closely with collaborators to determine and monitor the achievement of project milestones.
We also work with other government agencies to implement programs and projects with shared goals. Since 2006, our largest and most important partnership with another government agency has been with our portfolio partner, the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Relationships with our in-country partners change as partner countries develop more capability in research and change focus on their research priorities. Our approach to research prioritisation and partnership brokering adapts in order to deliver research projects that are consistent with jointly agreed priorities, needs and capabilities.
Our research portfolio evolves in response to new research opportunities enabled by new knowledge and technologies, and new research and development imperatives.
Projects are varied in design, execution and outcomes. Very broadly, projects range from research or investigations conducted by a group of partners across a number of field sites over several years to develop new knowledge, technology or methodology, through to small research activities where an individual agency or specialist may conduct a desktop or scoping study over 12 months.
Portfolio planning and impact evaluation helps us refine our priorities and learn lessons from current and past projects, as well as enabling accountability to our Minister, the Australian Government and the Australian public.
An important aspect of our work lies in strategically planning for, and measuring, the impact of our investments.
Consistent with the ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027, the Portfolio Planning and Impact Evaluation team has 2 ongoing key areas of focus:
Systematic portfolio planning, monitoring and reporting
We are continuing to revise our existing planning and reporting documents to ensure that projects are designed and budgeted in a way that enables effective project-level monitoring, evaluation and reflection throughout implementation, and longer-term impact assessment after project completion.
Commissioning evaluation studies
We will continue to commission studies that quantify our contribution and produce lessons relevant to the achievement of all ACIAR objectives. We will build on, and continue to develop, methods to understand and value the different contributions of agricultural research to human development and environmental sustainability. We will look for opportunities to undertake truly integrated impact assessments that explore the multiple values of our work. Based on our commitment to gender equity and social inclusion, we will conduct formative and ex-post gender-integrated assessment methods. We will also commission studies that will inform how we design and commission future work to deliver our objectives.