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The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) brokers and supports collaborative international research partnerships to improve livelihoods in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors in the Indo-Pacific region.

As an agency of the Australian Government, ACIAR partners bilaterally and multilaterally with governments and institutions in the region to tackle the intersecting and complex challenges of growing food more efficiently, increasing food system resilience, improving human nutrition and reducing poverty, while sustainably managing natural resources. At the same time, while striving for more productive and sustainable agriculture, we must adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

In line with the Australian Government’s development program, our work has an emphasis on building the capacity of individuals and institutions, and identifying opportunities for development led by the private sector. The development of agricultural livelihoods and enterprises in our partner countries creates opportunities for employment; however, labour scarcity through increased migration of rural people to cities and urban areas and an aging farmer population will impact the extent to which project outcomes can be scaled out.

The work of ACIAR reflects Australian Government policy imperatives articulated in:

The ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027 sets out 6 high-level strategic objectives to guide partnerships, programs and projects. These objectives are consistent with the purpose stated in our enabling legislation and reflect the policy imperatives of the Australian Government. Of these objectives, 3 build knowledge to underpin crucial development objectives and 3 ensure that our work is equitable, inclusive and empowering.

These objectives provide the framework of our operating program, but the way we design and implement partnerships and programs remains flexible, and is informed by the recommendations of the mid-term review of our 10-year strategy.

Our partnerships and programs must also remain flexible and adaptive to the impacts of global, national and local events, which affect our operating environment and the capacity and lives of our partners and our beneficiaries.

ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027

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ACIAR partnership model

Infographic showing the ACIAR partnership model. The top row features boxes representing ACIAR's enabling legislation, Australia's development program, and sustainable development goals. Below are 6 icons for ACIAR strategic objectives, followed by 10 boxes for ACIAR research programs. The bottom row highlights operational partnerships: global research collaborations, bilateral/regional projects, and capacity-building activities.


Operating environment

The ACIAR business model of brokering science partnerships in agriculture, fisheries and forestry between the Australian innovation system and our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific region is as relevant today as it was when ACIAR was established in 1982.

Ensuring that the best of Australian science can be combined with local knowledge and implemented effectively in the field depends on the quality and durability of partnerships between farmers, researchers, industry and government. Our outstanding track record of building and sustaining deep, trusting partnerships over the last 40 years is now a great strategic asset.

As the capabilities and capacity of our partner countries evolve, so too do our partnerships. Within this evolving context, our operational model continues to deliver against our enabling legislation, Australia’s development program and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, through 6 strategic objectives and 3 key areas of work:

1. Global research collaborations

We develop and foster partnerships and relationships with international research and development agencies, the most significant being CGIAR. We also develop and foster partnerships with development donors and the private sector to pursue shared goals and ensure that ACIAR-funded research results are implemented at scale.

2. Bilateral and regional research projects

We generate knowledge from ACIAR-funded projects and programs to empower smallholder farmers, extension agents, scientists, small and medium enterprises, and policymakers to take on the intersecting challenges of growing more and healthier food and reducing poverty while using resources sustainably.

3. Scientific and policy capacity-building activities

We identify and establish opportunities for individuals and institutions in partner countries to boost technical, policy and management skills in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and management of land and water resources.

The world continues to be affected and influenced by inter-related and complex global challenges of climate change, economic volatility and urbanisation. The primary beneficiaries of ACIAR investment, smallholder farmers in the Indo-Pacific region, and their households and communities, typically have fewer resources and less capacity to manage the risks associated with global challenges.

The ACIAR operating environment is concurrently affected by weather extremes, natural disasters, food and energy shortages, civil unrest and geopolitical tension.

The variability of influencing factors in each partner country means that our programs for research and capacity building must be developed to reflect partner priorities, and programs must be flexible to adapt to sudden and significant changes in the operating environment. We are guided by the ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027, and in the 2023–24 year, we will focus on the recommendations of the mid-term review of the strategy to ensure ACIAR remains in a position to deliver on its mandate in a changing world.

To contribute meaningfully to transformational change in food systems, which are characterised by high levels of uncertainty, ACIAR will increase its investment in mission-directed, multi-disciplinary, transdisciplinary and cross-program initiatives.

Our partnership models will be reviewed and redeveloped during this year and into subsequent years. The new models will reflect and embrace the growing research and leadership strengths of our country partners, and maximise the mutual benefit achieved from international research collaborations between Australian and country partner institutions.

ACIAR plays an important role in delivering on the objectives of Australia’s International Development Policy, launched in August 2023, not only in terms of material contributions to development but also to ensure that the research and capacity building in which we invest is based on genuine partnership, and supports peaceful and prosperous development in our region.

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Regional stability and economic security

Australian security and economic interests are linked to those of countries of our region. The Australian Government’s investment in agricultural research for development, through ACIAR, supports the promotion of peace and economic growth in our region. It also consolidates Australia’s position as a trusted science partner and leader in the agriculture and natural resources sectors.




Food security and poverty reduction



The strategic objective to improve food security and reduce poverty among smallholder farmers and rural communities is central to the purpose, vision and mission of ACIAR.

Our research portfolio supports innovation in agriculture, fisheries and forestry systems to increase production efficiency and product quality, as well as the profitability, sustainability and resilience of the systems. This not only provides more-nutritious food for smallholder farmers and their families and communities, but also enables the production of marketable surplus to improve livelihoods.

Investment and innovation in food systems increases the resilience of farmers, communities and science agencies in the face of ongoing and future disruptions such as natural disasters, civil unrest and global pandemics.

During 2023–24, ACIAR will support the development of more-resilient food production systems through global collaboration, investment in partnerships and facilitation of capacity-building opportunities. We will continue our collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre to deliver the Food Loss Research Program. We will continue to investment in regional and bilateral projects to develop climate-resilient, innovative, sustainable and profitable food value chains. Our Capacity Building Program enables partner country scientists to develop scientific and leadership skills to contribute to food systems resilience.


ACIAR projects improving food systems in 2023–24 include:

  • Food loss in the Pangasius catfish value chain of the Mekong River Basin (CS/2020/209)
  • Sustainable intensification systems for climate-resilient development in Pacific island countries (CLIM/2020/186)
  • Innovating fish-based livelihoods in the community economies of Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands (FIS/2019/124)
  • Increasing the productivity and profitability of smallholder beekeeping enterprises in Papua New Guinea and Fiji (LS/2014/042)
  • Crop health and nutrient management of shallot-chilli-rice cropping systems in coastal Indonesia (SLAM/2018/145)
  • Cropping system intensification in the salt-affected coastal zones of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India (LWR/2014/073)


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Natural resources and climate change



Managing natural resources and producing food more sustainably, adapting to climate variability and mitigating climate change, the focus of our second research-based objective, is fundamental to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, fishers and foresters in the Indo-Pacific region. Many countries experience a degraded natural resource base, such as poor soil health and water quality, and these issues are increasingly amplified by the growing impact of a changing climate.

Many projects across the ACIAR research portfolio address elements of this objective. In particular, the ACIAR Climate Change Program brokers research to progress the science and practice of transforming food systems and livelihoods that are most under pressure to adapt or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The year ahead presents several opportunities to contribute and influence global discussions on food security and climate change. ACIAR plans to share tangible examples of game-changing Australian innovation and investment that, with the right partnerships in place, can be scaled for significant impact globally.

ACIAR will continue to represent Australia in collaborations with international partners through the Adaptation Research Alliance, which aims to increase investment and opportunities for action-orientated research to inform effective climate change adaptation, particularly for vulnerable countries and communities.


ACIAR projects supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation in 2023–24 include:

  • Transformation pathways for Pacific coastal food systems (CLIM/2020/178)
  • Regreening for the future: integrating climate change adaption pathways into community-led regreening in eastern Africa (CLIM/2022/140)
  • Regional networks for large-scale coral and fish habitat restoration in the Philippines (FIS/2019/123)
  • Enhancing livelihoods through improved forest management in Nepal (FST/2017/037)
  • Responding to emerging pest and disease threats to horticulture in the Pacific islands (HORT/2016/185)
  • Climate smart agriculture opportunities for enhanced food production in Papua New Guinea (ASEM/2017/026)
  • Farmer options for crops under saline conditions in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam (SLAM/2018/144)
  • Trees for salinity in Pakistan (WAC/2021/136)


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Human health and nutrition



Better nutrition, food safety and food security are priority concerns in our partner countries, and therefore fundamental elements of the research and programs supported by ACIAR and its partners.

Throughout the Indo-Pacific region, countries, provinces and communities are experiencing the triple burden of nutrition – acute hunger and malnutrition alongside increasing levels of obesity and diet-associated diseases. Higher incomes and urbanisation have led quickly to obesity and a rise in the incidence of non-communicable diseases. In many cases these are affecting previously under-nourished communities.

With greater awareness of the potential impact of zoonotic disease, the safety of food systems is under scrutiny. During 2023–24, ACIAR will support a program of One Health projects in partnership with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and led by in-country science partners. Focused on the interface between human, animal and environmental health, the program aims to support the continued operationalisation of One Health.

Leaders in agriculture, business, science and government recognise that if the UN Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved by 2030, there must be a global transformation in how food is produced, processed, distributed and consumed. Many projects in our research portfolio are designed with an element of enhancing human nutrition and reducing risks to human health. During 2023–24, ACIAR will continue to develop partnerships and broker research relationships that address the many factors that influence the nutritional value of food harvested and the safety of the food production system.


ACIAR projects supporting healthier food systems in 2023–24 include:

  • Agribusiness-led inclusive value chain development for smallholder farming systems in the Philippines (AGB/2018/196)
  • Village-based biological control of fall armyworm in Zambia (CROP/2022/112)
  • Fruit trees for climate adaption and mitigation in East Africa (FST/2021/163)
  • Timor-Leste bacteria enteropathy and nutrition study (LS/2021/126)
  • Climate-smart coastal landscapes for sustaining fisheries-based livelihoods and food security in the Pacific (SSS/2021/120)
  • Managing heavy metals and soil contaminants in vegetable production to ensure food safety and environmental health in the Philippines (SLAM/2020/117)


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Gender equity and women’s empowerment



Gender equity is crucial to alleviating poverty in rural communities and a key consideration in all contexts in which ACIAR operates. As more than half the world’s farmers are women, ACIAR cannot credibly pursue its objectives around food security, human health and nutrition, climate change and reducing poverty unless we also promote gender equality and equity vigorously, both externally and internally.

ACIAR will update and build on its Gender Equity Policy and Strategy 2017–2022 with a new gender equity and social inclusion strategy and action plan. The strategy provides a road map to scale up and integrate gender equity and social inclusion into all aspects of ACIAR research, capacity-building and outreach programs. These efforts require improved analytical capacity to support research that addresses multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and exclusion (such as socioeconomic status, disability, ethnicity, age, gender and sexual identity, location and migration), while ensuring fair distribution of outcomes of research for development in agriculture, natural resources and food systems.

Consistent with the targets of our strategy and Australia’s aid program, we will strive for a minimum of 80% of ACIAR investments reflecting the principles of gender equity in project design and implementation. Currently, women make up less than 25% of project leaders in ACIAR-supported research, and the new strategy will seek to address barriers to project leadership for women scientists. We will strive to keep the proportion of senior positions in ACIAR that are occupied by women over 50%. Under the first strategy, this proportion increased from 11% in 2016 to 58% in June 2022.


ACIAR projects improving equity and empowerment in 2023–24 include:

  • Rapid breeding for reduced cooking time and enhanced nutritional quality in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) (CROP/2018/132)
  • Towards more profitable and sustainable mabé pearl and shell-based livelihoods in the western Pacific (FIS/2019/122)
  • Enhancing private sector-led development of the canarium industry in Papua New Guinea – Phase 2 (FST/2017/038)
  • Improving smallholder wellbeing through participation in modern value chains: sustaining future growth in the Pakistan citrus industry (HORT/2020/129)
  • Asian chicken genetic gains: a platform for exploring, testing, delivering, and improving chickens for enhanced livelihood outcomes in South-East Asia (LS/2019/142)
  • Transforming smallholder food systems in the Eastern Gangetic Plain (WAC/2020/148)


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Inclusive value chains



Through the strategic objective of ‘fostering more inclusive agrifood and forestry value chains, engaging the private sector where possible’, ACIAR brokers projects that identify opportunities and improve business outcomes for all people along the value chain, including smallholder farming households, input providers and traders, and associated communities.

Effective, efficient and inclusive value chains have the power to transform livelihoods of some of the poorest regions of the world. Unlocking the potential for people to participate equitably in markets and benefit from the opportunities provided by business is a proven way to create employment, improve business outcomes for smallholders and communities and increase economic security in developing countries.

The ACIAR Agribusiness Program focuses on research opportunities to develop new or better business systems and build partnerships to increase the efficiency, safety and inclusivity of supply chains. Projects in other programs of the ACIAR research portfolio also link best practices in agriculture, fisheries and forestry to opportunities to support innovation in production systems and value chains, and create new domestic market opportunities.

During 2023–24, ACIAR and IDRC will continue the Food Loss Research Program, which is a series of projects working with partners in developing countries to address food loss through innovative, locally driven solutions.


ACIAR projects fostering inclusive value chains in 2023–24 include:

  • Rapid breeding for reduced cooking time and enhanced nutritional quality in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) (CROP/2018/132)
  • Towards more profitable and sustainable mabé pearl and shell-based livelihoods in the western Pacific (FIS/2019/122)
  • Enhancing private sector-led development of the canarium industry in Papua New Guinea – Phase 2 (FST/2017/038)
  • Improving smallholder wellbeing through participation in modern value chains: sustaining future growth in the Pakistan citrus industry (HORT/2020/129)
  • Asian chicken genetic gains: a platform for exploring, testing, delivering, and improving chickens for enhanced livelihood outcomes in South-East Asia (LS/2019/142)
  • Transforming smallholder food systems in the Eastern Gangetic Plain (WAC/2020/148)


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Capacity building



Innovation in agriculture is a key pathway to poverty reduction, increased food security and economic growth. Building the capacity of agricultural researchers and policymakers, their networks and institutions contributes to innovation potential and supports partners to deploy relevant and effective agricultural practices and policies to reduce poverty.

The ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027 committed to building our investment in postgraduate research training for individual scientists, as well as value-added training in management and leadership. The strategy also identified the value in developing ongoing relationships with the network of ACIAR collaborators.

Capacity building is an intrinsic factor of many of the research projects we broker. This ensures that the people we work with have the skills, resources and knowledge to sustain new initiatives, systems and approaches, so our investment leads to lasting change. The collaborative international programs and partnerships underpinning ACIAR-supported research also serve to improve Australian scientific capabilities. We will continue reviewing our Capacity Building Program to further integrate with the research function of ACIAR, a key recommendation of the mid-term review of the 10-year strategy.


ACIAR programs and projects building capability in 2023–24 include:

  • Evaluating supply chain interventions and partnerships to sustainably grow the smallholder dairy sectors of Indonesia and the Philippines (AGB/2021/124)
  • Paribartan: participatory action research on locally led iterative learning and inclusive business models for adaptive transformation in Bangladesh polders (CLIM/2021/137)
  • Managing wheat blast in Bangladesh: identification and introgression of wheat blast resistance for rapid varietal development and dissemination (CROP/202/165)
  • Building effective forest health and biosecurity networks in South-East Asia (FST/2020/123)
  • Upscaling the benefits of insect-based animal feed technologies for sustainable agricultural intensification in Africa (ProteinAfrica) (LS/2020/154)
  • Soil management in Pacific Islands: investigating nutrient dynamics and the utility of soil information for better soil and farming system management (SLAM/2020/139)
  • Virtual Irrigation Academy business models in Pakistan (WAC/2020/180)



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