Previous ACIAR in the Indo-Pacific

Pacific region program 2021–22 

Partner country

No. projects

Pacific island countries








Solomon Islands






Papua New Guinea




Note that a project may be conducted in several countries,
therefore the total number of projects in this table will be
greater than the number of projects in the region.


project stats

The countries of the western Pacific, including Timor-Leste, are set apart from the rest of the world. Many are small and geographically isolated, and have limited land mass and arable land, fragile natural environments and fewer resources. Increasingly, they are more vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change than many other regions of the world.

Each country in this region faces specific development and agricultural challenges including small formal economies, long distances from major markets, high costs and rapidly growing populations that hamper economic growth. Governance and capacity constraints in some countries also limit their ability to deliver services. These challenges make it difficult to respond to natural disasters and climate change effects, which are prominent in the region.

While many of the constraints are common to more than one country, they can affect each country or even islands within countries differently, depending on local context. These constraints and uncertainties have limited the development of commercially oriented agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors, and left some Pacific region countries heavily dependent on imported food and other commodities. Many of these countries have increased vulnerability due to the remoteness of their location.

Pacific countries also face the consequences of a triple burden of malnutrition – a situation where undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and obesity coexist. Unhealthy diets, lifestyles and environment are key risk factors contributing to these non-communicable diseases.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects globally. Cities have been locked down, borders have closed, limiting international travel, and supply chains have been disrupted, upending economies. The Pacific region has been equally affected.

With the threat of inadequate health care to cope with COVID-19, Pacific countries were quick to close borders, establish isolation strategies and roll out protocols of social distancing. Currently, several Pacific countries have received support for vaccines, with Australia being a leading donor.

Domestically, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture were hit hard by the pandemic, through loss of access to markets and difficulty securing labour for harvest and production. Losses of jobs and incomes resulted from a decline in tourism, remittances and general household and business spending. In the tourism sector alone, which in 2019 brought in about US$4 billion and represented about 7.8% of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), international arrivals fell by 73% in the first 10 months of 2020.

During 2020, we examined food systems in the Indo-Pacific region to identify vulnerabilities that were exposed or amplified by the COVID-19 shock. This information, published in our report COVID-19 and food systems in the Indo-Pacific: An assessment of vulnerabilities, impacts and opportunities for action (ACIAR Technical Report 96), will be used to inform future research and development to support food systems resilience in the Indo-Pacific region. Food systems assessments were undertaken at 5 locations, including Pacific island countries, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.

To reduce and mitigate impacts of COVID-19 on economies, Pacific countries adopted a variety of measures, including economic stimulus packages, home gardening programs through seed distribution, farm support packages and backyard aquaculture farms.

Partner countries in the ACIAR Pacific region

  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Vanuatu
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Timor-Leste

Drivers of regional collaboration

While acknowledging individual needs and unique research and development priorities of each partner country in the Pacific region, the scattered nature of the Pacific region nations and their small populations mean that many countries cannot address all their challenges and opportunities in agriculture alone.

The ACIAR program with the Pacific region has a strong focus on enabling regional collaboration, especially through our close relationship with The Pacific Community (SPC), which plays a key role in communicating research outcomes of relevance across the region. Regional research programs and projects are implemented through agencies with regional capability (including SPC, the University of the South Pacific and CGIAR centres) and bilateral research and extension agencies.

Papua New Guinea is a significant partner within our Pacific region program, and we have a specific strategy that highlights enabling collaboration with the small island states of the region on issues of common interest.

Timor-Leste is also a partner in our Pacific region program. Given the small nation’s unique geographic, cultural and biophysical circumstances, our program in Timor-Leste is largely independent of programs from other countries in the region; however, opportunities to collaborate are optimised.

ACIAR Pacific region program

The Pacific Step-up is one of Australia’s most important foreign policy priorities, highlighted in the Australian Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. The policy elevates Australia’s partnerships with the Pacific region to a new level and focuses on strategically secure and economically stable support for the region.

In 2021–22, we will continue to build on our long engagement with the Pacific region, through our regional office in Fiji. We will develop new 10-year strategies with the Pacific island states and Papua New Guinea.

We are developing our medium-term priorities under both 10-year strategies through consultation with national government partners and regional research and development agencies as a response to COVID-19 to boost pandemic-resilient agriculture. We will continue to implement our business continuity plans, maintain formal and informal communication through the response, re-engagement and recovery phases, and reassure all major partners of our ongoing commitment to collaboration.

We are supporting our alumni to work hand-in-hand with Australian researchers to provide insights into how the pandemic is affecting local food security and to ensure the food secure future of the Pacific region. We also support the scaling up of new opportunities in COVID-19 relevant research areas such as One Health (the interface between human, animal and environmental health), biosecurity and improving resilience in food supply chains, both within partner countries and between Australia and partner countries.

A key focus of our program within the Pacific region will be enabling regional research collaboration in research and capacity building to address common issues and opportunities. This regional approach includes various projects addressing biosecurity, climate-resilient livelihoods and opportunities for stronger agribusiness development. Specific multi-country projects and linked programs include:

  • fisheries (pathways to change in Pacific coastal fisheries)
  • forestry (domestication and breeding of sandalwood, agroforestry and catchment rehabilitation)
  • crops (sweetpotato, indigenous vegetables, commercial vegetables, tropical fruits and cocoa)
  • soil information and soil health.

Securing the future of coconut

Grown in more than 90 tropical countries, on more than 12 million hectares, coconut is important to millions of smallholder households. The future of coconut production and livelihoods is threatened by senile plantings, which face further decline from pest and disease, climate change and poor conservation and management of genetic resources. Access to coconut genetic diversity is vital to sustaining the livelihoods of millions of smallholders and their communities around the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

During 2021–22, ACIAR, DFAT and the International Coconut Community will continue their collaboration to reinvigorate and sustain the Coconut Genetic Resources Network (COGENT). The program will focus on better coconut science, through a global coconut strategy to address the challenges outlined above. The program will work with other organisations to ensure a viable COGENT secretariat to safeguard coconut genetic resources and better address disease threats. The network is active throughout the Asia-Pacific region and led by Dr Jelfina Alouw, Executive Director of the International Coconut Community, who is based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

ACIAR project GP/2018/193

Current and proposed projects in the Pacific region, 2021–22



Pacific Agribusiness Research in Development Initiative Phase 2


Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu

Climate Change


Transforming Pacific coastal food production systems


South Pacific general

Improving greenhouse gas inventory systems to support the mitigation ambitions of Fiji and Vietnam


Fiji, Vietnam

Transformational pathways for Pacific fisheries communities


Kiribati, Solomon Islands

Conservation agriculture and sustainable intensification systems for transformational climate adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation in Pacific island countries


Samoa, Tonga



Developing a foundation for the long-term management of basal stem rot of oil palm in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands


Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands

Managing basal stem rot in oil palm by converting infected logs to biochar


Papua New Guinea

Agricultural innovations for communities for intensified and sustainable farming systems in Timor-Leste (AI-Com)





Half-pearl industry development in Tonga and Vietnam


Tonga, Vietnam

Strengthening and scaling community-based approaches to Pacific coastal fisheries management in support of the New Song


Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

A nutrition-sensitive approach to coastal fisheries management and development in Timor-Leste and Nusa Tenggara Timur Province, Indonesia


Indonesia, Timor-Leste

Institutional strengthening in Papua New Guinea: translating fisheries research into policy and management


Papua New Guinea

Improving peri-urban and remote inland fish farming in Papua New Guinea to benefit both community-based and commercial operators


Papua New Guinea

Agriculture and fisheries for improved nutrition: integrated agrifood system analyses for the Pacific region


Kiribati, Solomon Islands, South Pacific general, Vanuatu

Towards more profitable and sustainable mabé pearl and shell-based livelihoods in the western Pacific


Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga

Innovating fish-based livelihoods in the community economies of Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands


Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste

Improving nutrition through women’s and men’s engagement across the seaweed food chain in Kiribati and Samoa


Kiribati, Samoa

Developing alternative small-scale fishery models in the Fly River, Western Province, Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Spatially integrated approach to support a portfolio of livelihoods


Solomon Islands, South Pacific general

Coalitions for change in sustainable national community-based fisheries management programs in the Pacific


Kiribati, Solomon Islands, South Pacific general, Vanuatu

Strengthening agricultural resilience in Western Province: methods for place-based livelihoods approach


Papua New Guinea

Strengthening agricultural resilience in Western Province: mapping place-based strength and assets


Papua New Guinea



Enabling community forestry in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Enhancing returns from high-value agroforestry species in Vanuatu



Enhancing private sector-led development of the canarium industry in Papua New Guinea: phase 2


Papua New Guinea

Promoting smallholder teak and sandalwood plantations in Papua New Guinea and Australia


Papua New Guinea

Coconut and other non-traditional forest resources for the manufacture of engineered wood products



Livelihoods in forest ecosystem recovery


Solomon Islands



Aligning genetic resources, production and post-harvest systems to market opportunities for Pacific island and Australian cocoa


Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

Integrating protected cropping systems into high value vegetable value chains in the Pacific and Australia


Fiji, Samoa, Tonga

Developing improved crop protection options in support of intensification of sweetpotato production in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Developing the cocoa value chain in Bougainville


Papua New Guinea

Supporting commercial sweetpotato production and marketing in the Papua New Guinea highlands


Papua New Guinea

Responding to emerging pest and disease threats to horticulture in Pacific islands


Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga

Safeguarding and deploying coconut diversity for improving livelihoods in the Pacific islands


Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

Protecting the coffee industry from coffee berry borer in Papua New Guinea and Australia


Papua New Guinea

Improving root crop resilience and biosecurity in Pacific island countries and Australia


Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga

Enhanced fruit systems for Tonga and Samoa (phase 2): community-based citrus production


Samoa, Tonga

Building a business case for investment in a coconut industry in the Pacific


Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu

Adopting a gender-inclusive participatory approach to reducing horticultural food loss in the Pacific (Food Loss Research Program)


Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga

Livestock Systems


Smallholder cattle enterprise development in Timor-Leste



Increasing the productivity and profitability of smallholder beekeeping enterprises in Papua New Guinea and Fiji


Fiji, Papua New Guinea

Improving small ruminant production and supply in Fiji and Samoa


Fiji, Samoa

Sectoral analysis and investment requirements for improving Fiji and Samoa small ruminant sector


Fiji, Samoa

A farm planning approach to increase productivity and profitability of smallholder cattle systems in Vanuatu



Enhancing the management of antimicrobial resistance in Fiji



Improved animal health surveillance in Timor-Leste



Assessing the potential of a high value ‘sustainable beef’ brand within the Vanuatu tourism sector to improve beef production and increase the market share for smallholders



COVID-19: gendered risks, impact and response in the Indo-Pacific: rapid research and policy guidance (COVID-19 impacts program)


Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines

Livestock climate lens Part 1: data landscape analysis


Myanmar, Vanuatu

Social Systems


Agrifood systems transformation through circular migration between Pacific islands and Australia (COVID-19 impacts program)


Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu

Improving livelihoods of smallholder coffee communities in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Climate-smart landscapes for promoting sustainability of Pacific island agricultural systems


Fiji, Tonga

Climate smart agriculture opportunities for enhanced food production in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Improving agricultural development opportunities for female smallholders in rural Solomon Islands


Solomon Islands

Gender equitable agricultural extension through institutions and youth engagement in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Landcare – an agricultural extension and community development model at district and national scale in Fiji



Soil and Land Management


Sustaining soil fertility in support of intensification of sweetpotato cropping systems


Papua New Guinea

Better soil information for improving Papua New Guinea’s agricultural production and land use planning: building on PNGRIS and linking to the Pacific Regional Soil Partnership


Papua New Guinea

Optimising soil management and health in Papua New Guinea integrated cocoa farming systems (phase 2)


Papua New Guinea

Soil management in Pacific islands (phase 2): investigating nutrient dynamics and the utility of soil information for better soil and crop management


Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu

Understanding tradition and fostering appropriate innovation in soil management to improve farmers productivity and livelihood in Timor-Leste



Notes: More details (including project leader, commissioned organisation and partner organisations) are provided in the appendixes. The project list was compiled in June 2021. Additional projects not listed in this table may be commissioned during 2021–22.

Next Pacific island countries