Our global partnerships

Previous Capacity building

Through engaging in multilateral research collaborations and co-investing with other development partners, ACIAR continues to promote more productive and sustainable agricultural systems for the benefit of developing countries and Australia. These partnerships enable us to maintain extremely valuable physical and intellectual global public goods such as gene banks. By leveraging the comparative strengths of the organisations involved, we can participate in ambitious cross-border research that we could not achieve alone.

Multilateral partnerships

The largest of our multilateral partnerships is with CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research)—the world’s largest agricultural research network. In 2019–20, the Australian Government, through ACIAR, was the sixth-highest contributing funder and research partner of CGIAR. Australia is an extremely active participant in the network, with a voting seat for our CEO on the highest governing body of the CGIAR, the System Council. Many other governance roles are held by ACIAR staff. This year has seen many changes in CGIAR as it undergoes a reform process to build ‘One CGIAR’, a more efficient and better-funded system. We are actively engaged in the reform to ensure that research and governance remains aligned with our mission and Australia’s interests.

Australia’s funding, through ACIAR, to CGIAR in 2019-20


Amount AUD $ million













Roots, tubers and bananas




Grains, legumes, and dryland cereals


Agriculture for nutrition and health


Climate change, agriculture and food security


Policy, institutes and markets


Water, land and ecosystems




*PIM and GENDER totals include out of cycle contributions of 0.3 (World Bank Modification 20) and 0.4 (CGIAR Trust Holding Account), respectively. The 0.3 PIM contribution was for Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI).

We worked to build stronger strategic relationships with the Pacific Community (SPC), the principal scientific and agricultural technical organisation in the Pacific, and to enhance strategic management capacity for results and strengthened capacity in coastal fisheries development. We participated in regional consultation processes facilitated by SPC, such as Pacific Week of Agriculture, Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services and Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Services.

This year has also seen a strengthening in our relationship with the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI). Membership helps CABI address issues of global concern through science, information and communication, with a focus on international development and research, publishing and microbial services. The partnership includes support to Plantwise (networks of plant clinics) and the CABI Development Fund (for pilot projects).

We worked with the Asia–Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) to promote and coordinate national agricultural research institutes in the Asia–Pacific region through inter-regional and inter-institutional cooperation. In recognition of the valuable role the organisation plays in the region, ACIAR is the current Chair of the APAARI Executive Council and the Asia–Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology and Bioresources.

Our support for WorldVeg and its program of vegetable breeding and capacity building in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa continued. Notably, the partnership includes support of the International Mungbean Improvement Network—a benefit to farmers overseas and in Australia.


Our most significant co-investment is with the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC). ACIAR was originally modelled on the IDRC by Sir John Crawford in his 1981 recommendation to then Prime Minister Fraser. IDRC has a non-binding agreement with ACIAR to build collaborations on a range of research initiatives of mutual interest until 2027 and discussions are underway regarding new investment opportunities. Our current co-investment is a 50:50 partnership with Cultivating Africa’s Future program and the more exploratory Food Futures program.

ACIAR has also reinforced our strategic engagement with other development partners, including the Swiss Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), and The Crawford Fund in Australia. A joint initiative between ACIAR, SFSA and The Crawford Fund includes the Alliance for Agricultural Research and Development for Food Security (Alliance). This year, Alliance members started to design a portfolio of new research projects, the first of which will investigate how farmers’ hubs are being used to deliver solutions and services to farming communities in countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia.


ACIAR plays key role in development of the CGIAR Gender Platform

A key highlight this year was the development of the new CGIAR Gender (Generating Evidence and New Directions for Equitable Results) Platform. ACIAR (along with other leading donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID and the Canadian IDRC) was instrumental in the establishment of this platform, which is a critical element of research infrastructure, analogous to CGIAR gene banks. We are committed to tackling gender inequality in research design, delivery and impact and have been a strong and engaged supporter of the platform. Integrating gender in agricultural research-for-development in CGIAR is a smart and sensible development as it addresses the needs of both women and men, while recognising and addressing unequal access to resources and decision-making.

Food Futures Research Program

The Food Futures Research Program is an innovative partnership between ACIAR and IDRC. The program canvasses and supports strategic agricultural research that will have a potential breakthrough and/or transformative impact on global food security in the near future. ACIAR and IDRC have jointly committed $5 million to the program, which ACIAR is managing on behalf of the partnership. In 2019–20, the program completed foresight and impact analysis work to understand prevailing macro and sector trends in food security and identify the major future obstacles and key gaps in research. The USA Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research co-invested in this work, which was undertaken by XPRIZE and resulted in the publication of an impact roadmap.

First ACIAR–SPC Roundtable

A key focus for both ACIAR and SPC is enabling regional collaboration in research and capacity building to address common development issues and explore joint opportunities. The first ACIAR–SPC Roundtable meeting was held in 2019 and confirmed the strong alignment between the organisations’ programs towards leadership in regional food systems, biosecurity and climate-resilient livelihoods. This alignment was further endorsed and encouraged through SPC’s membership of the ACIAR Policy Advisory Committee.

Informing policy and investment decisions in agricultural research in the Indo-Pacific

Agricultural research stakeholders need reliable data on research investment and capacity trends to identify key gaps, set investment priorities and ensure coordination and coherence of agricultural research initiatives. The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators Indo-Pacific project, funded by ACIAR and facilitated by APAARI and the International Food Policy Research Institute, provides partners in the region with access to data on the funding, human resource capacity and outputs of agricultural research in countries in the region. The project is now in the outreach phase, helping to facilitate policies for effective and efficient agricultural research in the Indo-Pacific region. This information is a powerful persuasive tool for national and regional research managers, policymakers, donor organisations and other stakeholders to drive higher levels of investment in agricultural research, which is key to increasing agricultural production to meet global needs.


INSFEED: Insect feed for poultry and fish production in sub-Saharan Africa

Man and woman holding a tray of insects

Rosanne Mwangi, a pig farmer in Makuyu, Kenya, found out about insect farming during a 2018 conference visit to Uganda. Her curiosity about how chicken feed could be made from pig manure, with the help of houseflies, led her to research more on insects as a supplement for animal feed.

‘As a pig farmer, I was amazed to learn you can develop cheaper and quality animal feeds from insects. I came back to Kenya determined to find ways to grow maggots from which I could derive pig and chicken feeds,’ said Ms Mwangi.

In Kenya and Uganda, researchers are testing the feasibility of using insects, particularly black soldier flies, for livestock feed rather than soybeans and fish meal. The switch will help reduce costs for small-scale producers and redirect food crops currently used as livestock feed toward human consumption.

The Insect for Feed (INSFEED) project is delivered by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and is a joint investment of ACIAR and the IDRC.

After training in July 2019, Ms Mwangi received a starter kit of 10 kg of black soldier flies from ICIPE. In three months, she produced an average of 500 kg of larvae per batch.

Ms Mwangi keeps pigs as part of a group of 18 women in Kitengela. Currently, they have 160 pigs and feed them on a ratio of 25% black soldier fly, 15% soya and fishmeal feed, and 60% direct plant waste.

The use of black soldier flies reduces the time to market for the pigs from 6 weeks to 1.5–4 weeks, creating a reservoir of feed for use on other animals. The pigs retail at 16,000–18,000 Kenyan shillings ($242–272).

‘Our pigs fetch a good price in the market. Farmer’s Choice, the main pig supplier in Kenya, has graded the carcass quality at grade one, especially the eye of the loin, as it has less fat and more lean meat compared with other suppliers,’ said Ms Mwangi.

Research expertise from ICIPE allows farmers like Ms Mwangi to access quality inputs and advice to help their businesses prosper.

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