Global collaborations

Previous Operating structure

ACIAR works with international partners to foster and implement global research collaborations that support strategic development in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

The ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027 (2nd edition) maintains the proposition that by leveraging strategic international partnerships we influence and promote more productive and sustainable agricultural systems for the benefit of low-income and lower-middle-income countries and Australia.

ACIAR builds and maintains multilateral partnerships with a range of international organisations, institutes and associations that are engaged in agricultural research and the delivery of global public goods. Our goal is to be a valued, engaged investor and a strong, innovative partner in international agricultural research.

The funding and support of international agricultural research centres is one of the roles of ACIAR, mandated by the ACIAR Act. We foster and maintain active working relationships with international agricultural research centres by providing timely, reliable and consistent funding, as well as strategic advice on research and governance.

The largest component of support is provided to CGIAR, an international network of research centres dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food and nutrition security for human health, and improving natural resource management and ecosystem services. In addition to CGIAR, we establish and foster partnerships with other international research centres and networks relevant to our mission.

We also develop and manage co-investment alliances and partnerships with like-minded organisations and donors. Co-investment partnerships demonstrate deep trust, enabling partners to leverage capacity and complement research strengths to build a critical mass of resources to invest in research that is more ambitious and wide-reaching. During 2023–24, we will seek to strengthen multilateral collaborations by serving the international research community as:

  • an engaged investor
  • a strategic research facilitator
  • a broker of Australian science (by engaging relevant Australian research expertise). 

The ACIAR Multilateral Program will also work to progress Strategic Change 6 of the refreshed ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027: Maximising the value of our multilateral investments by strengthening our partnerships with multilateral agricultural research-for-development institutions.


Australia as a global contributor

Partnerships built by the ACIAR Multilateral Program contribute to Australia’s global citizenship goals. Our deep engagement in collaborative international research maximises the influence of the Australian agricultural innovation system and the international standing of Australian agriculture.

Investing in global agricultural innovation

Australia has invested in CGIAR since its establishment in 1971. CGIAR is the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network, comprising 15 international agricultural research centres with more than 9,000 scientists who work mostly in low-income and lower-middle-income countries.

With 50 years of experience, a presence in 89 countries, and a deep knowledge of local customs, values and markets, the CGIAR system works closely with more than 3,000 partner organisations. These include national and regional research institutes, civil society organisations, academia and the private sector. CGIAR works towards a world free of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation. CGIAR is directly connected to the global development agenda and operates on an annual budget of about US$900 million.

The CGIAR research centres, shown in the map below, conduct world-class, interdisciplinary research that combines biophysical and social sciences to deliver development impact at scale. The research centres are responsible for hands-on research programs and operations guided by policies and research directions set by the CGIAR System Board with guidance from the CGIAR System Council.

A strong research-based relationship between ACIAR and CGIAR was forged soon after the establishment of ACIAR in 1982. With an amendment to the ACIAR Act in 1992, ACIAR was then mandated as Australia’s representative to CGIAR.

As a significant funder of CGIAR, Australia has high-level representation on CGIAR governance bodies, including the CGIAR System Council.

During 2023–24, CGIAR will undergo the final steps to becoming a more unified and integrated One CGIAR and begin the design of the next iteration of the One CGIAR research portfolio. The reform has involved a move from a network of independent international research centres, configured mostly around agricultural commodities, to a more cohesive structure under a common board.

ACIAR has actively contributed to the reform to ensure CGIAR is well-placed to deliver against both the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as to attract new funder contributions.

Australia contributes to CGIAR alongside the United States of America, Germany, India, United Kingdom, European Commission and Mexico among many others, as well as significant donors, including the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Further information on CGIAR governance and funding can be found on the CGIAR Governance and CGIAR Dashboards sites on the CGIAR website.

In addition to participating in the governance of CGIAR, Australia has many scientists who contribute as research leaders within the CGIAR and its research centres.


a map showing locations of the agricultural research centres of the CGIAR system

Figure 2.1   Location of the agricultural research centres of the CGIAR system

Source: CGIAR

CGIAR investment 2023–24

Australia, through ACIAR, provides restricted project funds and unrestricted core funds (designated and undesignated) to CGIAR. Restricted funding is delivered through specific research projects by individual centres of the CGIAR network. Unrestricted funding constitutes more than half of Australia’s total support to CGIAR. Unrestricted funding is reviewed annually and in 2023–24 will be approximately A$17 million (Table 1.3).

The CGIAR research portfolio strives for global and regional impact by organising its work around 3 Action Areas:

  • Systems Transformation
  • Resilient Agrifood Systems
  • Genetic Innovation.

These Action Areas align with the CGIAR 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, which aims to ensure that research provides real solutions for development.

The strategy has 7 implementation approaches:

  1. embracing a systems transformation approach
  2. leveraging ambitious partnerships for change
  3. positioning regions, countries and landscapes as central dimensions of partnership, worldview and impact
  4. generating scientific evidence on multiple transformation pathways
  5. targeting risk management and resilience as critical qualities for food, land and water systems
  6. harnessing innovative finance to leverage and deliver research through new investment and funding models
  7. making the digital revolution central to our way of working.

The new One CGIAR research portfolio, centred on transforming food, land and water systems in a climate crisis, is well underway, with the first year of results now available on the CGIAR Results Dashboard.

The 2023–24 year is shaping up to be pivotal for CGIAR with the implementation of the 2030 Research Strategy and delivery of impact on the current research portfolio, while beginning to design the focus of research beyond 2024.

To ensure research excellence and value for investment in CGIAR for Australia, during 2023–24 ACIAR will:

  • participate at the highest levels of governance of the CGIAR system, through membership and leadership on the CGIAR System Council, the Strategic Impact Monitoring and Evaluation Standing Committee and numerous other advisory groups
  • continue our collaboration with other donors to CGIAR through participation in multi-funder activities that align with ACIAR strategy and Australian interests
  • coordinate Australian engagement with CGIAR, including consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and other Australian organisations, primarily through the CGIAR Australian Leadership Group, established by ACIAR in 2015
  • engage ACIAR Research Program Managers in the technical oversight of CGIAR Research Programs and in strengthening our partnership with the CGIAR to achieve Strategic Change 6 of ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027.

Impressive return on investment

CGIAR delivers impressive economic, social and environmental returns on research investment. A 2020 study calculated a benefit:cost ratio of 10:1 for CGIAR investment since 1961, which is primarily due to enhancing the yields of staple food crops in developing countries. There are additional less-easily measured payoffs, such as greater food abundance, cheaper food, reduced rates of hunger and poverty, and a smaller geographical footprint of agriculture. CGIAR research outputs have helped keep Australian farmers competitive in world markets by increasing yields and reducing costs.

A 2020 study calculated a benefit-cost ratio of 10:1 for CGIAR investment since 1961, which is primarily due to enhancing the yields of staple food crops in developing countries. There are additional less-easily measured payoffs such as greater food abundance, cheaper food, reduced rates of hunger and poverty, and a smaller geographical footprint of agriculture.

CGIAR germplasm has been incorporated into, and has greatly improved, Australian plant and livestock breeding programs. For example, 98% of all wheat grown in Australia is derived from CGIAR wheat germplasm. CGIAR germplasm is also prominent in improved varieties of sorghum, maize and chickpea in Australia.

Partnering in global and regional programs

In addition to our partnership with CGIAR, ACIAR has multilateral partnership arrangements with a number of international agricultural research centres and networks.

During 2023–24, we will support global research collaborations with:

  • The Pacific Community
  • Asia–Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions
  • World Vegetable Center
  • CABI (formally known as the Centre for Agricultural Biosciences International)
  • International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology.

Pacific Community

The Pacific Community (SPC), previously known as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, has been the principal scientific and technical organisation working to support development in the Pacific region since 1947. SPC is an international development organisation owned and governed by 26 country and territory participants.

SPC provides regional specialist technical expertise to strengthen or, in some cases, supplement regional and national capacity. Several core functions of SPC are of particular interest to ACIAR:

  • to strengthen sustainable management of natural resources (fisheries, forestry, land use, agriculture, minerals, water)
  • to improve pathways to international markets
  • to improve multi-sectoral responses to climate change and disasters
  • to advance social development through the promotion of human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity and opportunities for young people
  • to improve multi-sectoral responses to non-communicable diseases and food security.

SPC and ACIAR have worked in partnership for more than 30 years and SPC is a key partner of both ACIAR and DFAT. SPC helps deliver on Australia’s strategies to support the production of strategic regional public goods with strong benefits for the region’s agriculture, fisheries, forestry and biosecurity sectors.

ACIAR currently provides core and project funding to the Land Resources Division and the Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division. The current core strategic partnership agreement, associated with this funding, extends to December 2026.

The partnership between ACIAR and SPC supports the production and maintenance of scientific, technical and management capacities, and activities in agriculture and fisheries that provide shared benefits for agricultural development activities of Pacific island countries and territories. Our funding is also aimed at building stronger strategic relationships between our organisations, enhancing strategic management capacity in the Land Resources Division and strengthening capacity for coastal fisheries development in Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division.

SPC facilitates the participation and engagement of ACIAR in regional consultation processes such as Pacific Week of Agriculture and Forestry, Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services, and Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Services. During 2023–24, ACIAR and SPC will collaborate to progress strategic regional initiatives, particularly mitigating the impacts of current and future risks.

Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions

The Asia-​Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) promotes and coordinates the national agricultural research institutes in the Asia-Pacific region, through inter-regional and inter-institutional cooperation. APAARI works to strengthen agrifood research and innovation systems in Asia and the Pacific, based on strategic priorities identified through regional consultation processes.

ACIAR has a history of working with and supporting APAARI. We provide annual core funding for research communication, knowledge management, advocacy for agricultural biotechnology, support for capacity building, and participation in expert consultations with national agricultural research system leaders in the region.

World Vegetable Center

The World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) is an international non-profit research and development institute committed to alleviating poverty and malnutrition in low-income and lower-middle-income countries through increased production and consumption of vegetables. It also manages the world’s largest vegetable gene bank. WorldVeg undertakes research and development to realise the potential role of vegetables for healthier lives and more-resilient livelihoods.

Through its extensive networks and research partnerships WorldVeg disseminates improved varieties of vegetable crops and promotes improved production methods to farmers. This results in higher vegetable harvests, higher incomes, more jobs and healthier, more-nutritious diets.

Investment in WorldVeg is an investment in research into the nexus between agriculture, livelihoods, nutrition and health. ACIAR provides WorldVeg with both core funding and project-specific funding. ACIAR has a strategic partnership arrangement with WorldVeg, which supports breeding activities and capacity building in low-income and lower-middle-income countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership focuses on the development of improved vegetable varieties, introduction of improved agricultural practices, collaboration and capacity building of public and private seed sectors and long-term support of the International Mungbean Improvement Network.

ACIAR funding has enabled:

  • better conservation of vegetable crop biodiversity and development of more resilient crops to address current and future biotic and abiotic constraints to vegetable production in the context of climate change
  • development, evaluation and validation of good agricultural practices for vegetable production that are safe for consumers, profitable and sustainable for all value-chain stakeholders
  • collaboration to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers and national partners from both the public and private sectors in vegetable production and commercialisation
  • enhanced mungbean germplasm conservation, discovery of novel traits, and strengthened international collaboration, knowledge and technology sharing on mungbean improvement.

WorldVeg has brought significant benefits to Australian agriculture, particularly through its mungbean breeding program, which has provided the varieties grown across much of northern Australia for many years. WorldVeg also holds varieties of tomato with genetic resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus, which poses an ongoing threat to the Australian tomato industry.


CABI (formally known as the Centre for Agricultural Biosciences International) is an intergovernmental, not-for-profit organisation established by a UN treaty. Australia is a member of CABI, along with 49 other member countries from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

CABI addresses issues of global concern through science, information and communication, with a focus on international development and research, publishing and microbial services.

CABI works to improve global food security, combat threats to agriculture and the environment from pests and diseases, protect biodiversity from invasive species, and improve access to agricultural and environmental knowledge. CABI improves lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

Australia’s membership fee, through ACIAR, enables CABI to address key issues of importance to both organisations. The funding supports PlantwisePlus, the CABI Development Fund and Australia’s CABI membership (services relating to CABI’s scientific expertise, products and resources). The CABI Development Fund invests in pilot projects to enable the development of strategies for climate-change adaptation and mitigation actions in smallholder agriculture. Australia’s investment in CABI has contributed to improved agricultural outcomes for low-income and lower-middle-income countries and delivered benefits to Australian agriculture, particularly in the area of biosecurity.

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) plays an important role in agricultural research for development, and in producing and maintaining global public goods in entomology.

ACIAR has engaged icipe as an implementing partner on research projects since 2015. In recognition of the important role that icipe plays for our products and in the production of regional and global public goods, in 2022, we established the Emerging Insect Technology Hub (EIT-Hub) and a partnership arrangement with icipe. EIT-Hub will centralise engagement and knowledge sharing around insects as food, animal feed and fertiliser, and bring together industry stakeholders, scientists and investors to discuss issues related to emerging insect technologies. The initiative is led by icipe, in partnership with ACIAR and AgriFutures Australia, to accelerate insect farming as an emerging industry in Africa and Australia. The partnership arrangement was established to reflect the strength of the relationship between ACIAR and icipe, the alignment of organisational aims, and the important role of icipe in the global agricultural research landscape.

In 2023–24 ACIAR will continue to strengthen its relationship with icipe, by providing core funds under the icipe–ACIAR Partnership Arrangement, project and EIT-Hub collaboration, and advocating that other funders commit to the organisation as strategic long-term (core) funders and partners.

Building strength through collaboration

Co-investment programs enable ACIAR to harness the complementary skills of partners, leverage ACIAR funds, and engage in larger and more ambitious programs.

Co-investment programs take many forms, from shared design and implementation of a suite of research, to programs designed to support industry and build capacity.

International Development Research Centre

Our most significant partner in terms of co-investment is Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). IDRC was a model for ACIAR when Sir John Crawford submitted his recommendation to Prime Minister Fraser in 1981 to establish a centre for international agricultural development in Australia. Of all our partners, IDRC is most like ACIAR in that it is a specialist statutory agency investing in research as a form of strategic official development assistance.

IDRC has an agreement with ACIAR to build collaborations on a range of research initiatives of mutual interest until 2027. Current co-investments are 50:50 partnerships and include:

  • Food Loss Research Program, described below
  • ACIAR–IDRC Research Program on One Health (AIRPOH), described below.
illustration of a mango

Food loss program

The Food Loss Research Program aims to gain a deeper understanding of the drivers of food loss, from the farm through to the consumer. The program marks an important evolution in looking at food from a systems perspective. In some countries where ACIAR operates, there is a lack of post-harvest infrastructure for reducing food loss. While technology solutions exist, they have not been adopted or implemented at scale.

The Food Loss Research Program addresses value chain inefficiencies, poor communication systems and overall structural inequalities. Through 4 projects the program seeks to:

  • examine agricultural value chains within food systems at a provincial or local level in 2 or more countries in which ACIAR and/or IDRC work
  • conduct foresight exercises until 2050, stipulating how value chains are likely to change given trends in labour, technology, mechanisation, climate change, urban and rural density, and nutritional requirements engage private agribusinesses along the value chain to document their experiences of food loss and explore models of innovation to mitigate food loss in the long term
  • assess interventions that are currently being used at a local scale across the value chain
  • assess factors that enable or prevent the transfer of intervention strategies from one location to another.

Food Loss Research Program projects

  • Adopting a gender-inclusive participatory approach to reducing horticultural food loss in the Pacific (CS/2020/191)
  • Developing food loss reduction pathways through smart business practices in mango and tomato value chains in Pakistan and Sri Lanka (CS/2020/193)
  • Food loss in the catfish value chain of the Mekong River Basin (CS/2020/209)
  • Managing food value chains for improved nutrition for urban vulnerable populations in Africa (Africitiesfood) (CS/2020/210)
An illustration of a goat on a blue background.

One Health program

One Health is a framework that recognises that the health of people, animals and the environment is interconnected. It provides an approach for developing more effective integration across the human and animal health systems in regard to regulations, surveillance, diagnostics and responses to disease outbreaks.

Globally, approximately 75% of newly emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses (diseases that can transmit from animals to humans). These diseases arise as a result of one or several factors that may be anthropogenic, genetic, ecological, socioeconomic or climatic in origin. Across the Indo-Pacific region, animal production systems are changing rapidly; however, local and regional capacity to diagnose, treat and control disease is generally weak and under-resourced.

Jointly funded for A$4.3 million, the ACIAR–IDRC Research Program on One Health (AIRPOH) will form a portfolio of interconnected projects supporting research that will have a transformative impact on human, animal and environmental health. The program aims to promote new ideas and thinking on One Health.

Research Program on One Health projects

  • Developing strategies to reduce brucellosis transmission in Timor-Leste based on One Health collaboration (LS/2022/161)
  • Policy support to the Philippines’ national surveillance and control programs for African swine fever, avian influenza and antimicrobial resistance: a One Health systems approach to animal food security, public health resiliency and environment sustainability (LS/2022/162)
  • Livestock enhancement through EcoHealth/ One Health assessment in South-East Asia (LS/2022/163)
  • The role of agricultural and forest landscapes on human and environmental health in Cambodia (SSS/2022/164)

Alliance for Agricultural Research and Development for Food Security

The Alliance for Agricultural Research and Development for Food Security (Alliance) is a joint initiative between ACIAR, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and the Crawford Fund.

Alliance partners undertake complementary activities and/or co-fund innovative approaches to research-for- development activities and delivery, using the unique and diverse strengths and expertise of the parties to better promote and achieve food security.

The Alliance recognised the potential for demand-led plant variety design to transform plant breeding for small-scale agriculture and food security. In 2014 it established the project ‘Demand led plant variety design for emerging markets in Africa’ (FSC/2013/019), which engages with plant-breeding and university sectors in many countries in southern and eastern Africa. This project will finish in 2023–24, but the impact will be sustained, with the resources being used by a wide range of institutions in Africa and beyond and an alumni of over 400 plant breeders.

A new project ‘Developing and translating soil health information in Bangladesh with farmers and for farmers to build resilient agricultural systems’ (SLAM/2021/107), starting in 2023, has evolved from a shared interest between partners of the Alliance to develop a farmer-oriented soil health and resilience knowledge framework and evaluation system, to build resilient agricultural systems in Bangladesh. The project will take a trans-disciplinary approach to soil health research and assess the impact of this approach in relation to practice change in farmers’ fields. It brings together farmers, extension agents, researchers and government agencies, and potentially private sector partners, to work collaboratively through an iterative cycle of learning in order to address soil health risks related to climate change.

an illustration of a globe with meridians and latitude lines


More information about our international partnerships is available on the ACIAR website.


an illustration of a computer with the ACIAR logo in its centre


More information about our projects is available on the ACIAR website. Search for the project title or project code.


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