Previous ACIAR in the Indo-Pacific

Pacific region program 2022–23 

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.


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The countries of the western Pacific region are set apart from the rest of the world. Many are small and geographically isolated, have limited land mass and arable land, fragile natural environments and few 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 and recover from disasters and climate change effects, which are prominent in the region.

In 2021–22, the region was confronted with a string of civil and natural disasters that included civil unrest and demonstrations in Solomon Islands, volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga, and flooding and landslides due to cyclones across several countries.

Pacific island 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.

For the last 2 years, 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. Many Pacific island countries have intensified their vaccination programs, including boosters to help manage the spread of the virus. Australia has assisted the region by providing donations of vaccines and support to local health systems.

In 2020 ACIAR published a report1 that examined food systems in the Pacific region and the vulnerabilities that were exposed or amplified by the COVID-19 shock. Income and production by farmers and fishers were impacted by the movement restrictions; service delivery was disrupted, especially on small and medium islands; local markets closed reducing the availability of fresh produce, which was felt most by urban areas; tourism declined significantly reducing farm incomes that were reliant on supplying tourism establishments; and migration to rural areas increased food demand and pressure on agriculture. Lockdowns and border closures also resulted in employment and income losses, remittances declined and general household and business spending declined. In response to this analysis, ACIAR commissioned an assessment of agrifood systems transformation through circular migration between Pacific island countries and Australia2. This assessment concluded that the combination of continued labour demands in Australian agriculture, COVID-19 socioeconomic impacts in the Pacific, and future food systems risks in Pacific island countries, create an opportunity for greater agriculture-oriented research and training within agriculture-related labour mobility.

The impact of the pandemic continues to hit the Pacific region hard. Agriculture and fresh produce emerged as the foundation of the economy for the region and ensured food security for the population when the manufacturing sector, trade and services stalled.

To reduce and mitigate ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on economies, Pacific region countries adopted a variety of measures, including economic stimulus packages, home gardening programs through seed distribution, farm support packages and backyard aquaculture farms. Cash transfers to most vulnerable households were also implemented to augment loss of income.

While many Pacific region countries are still contending with and responding to the onshore surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the region and governments are preparing to restart their economies and open borders. The past 2 years have resulted in renewed interest in, and support for, agriculture, fisheries and forestry; enthusiasm for innovation in food systems and value chains; and the creation of new domestic market opportunities.

Partner countries in the ACIAR Pacific region


Drivers of regional collaboration

While acknowledging the 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.

ACIAR Pacific region program

The 2017 Pacific Step-up highlighted in the Australian Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper elevated Australia’s partnerships with the Pacific region to a new level and focused on strategically secure and economically stable support for the region. This strong focus was re-emphasised by Australia’s new government in 2022.

In 2022–23, 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 the region enters the new normal. We will focus our efforts on re-building the agriculture sector post-pandemic and re-engaging with partners, including face to face discussions where possible. We are also supporting Pacific Week of Agriculture and Forestry, which Fiji will host in March 2023.

We continue to support alumni of ACIAR capacity building programs and fellowships to work hand-in-hand with Australian researchers to provide insights into how the pandemic is affecting local food security and to ensure future food security 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 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. 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.


Current and proposed projects in the Pacific region, 2022–23



Pacific Agribusiness Research in Development Initiative Phase 2 (PARDI 2)


Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu

Defining priority commercialisation pathways and potential private commercialisation partners for viable long-term commercialisation of products emerging from FST/2019/128



Landscape and opportunity analysis in the Pacific tuna sector: Foundation analysis to identify innovation pathways to enhance participation by the Pacific community and value retention in the region


South Pacific general

Climate Change


Transformation pathways for Pacific coastal food systems


Kiribati, Solomon Islands

Sustainable intensification for climate-resilient development in Pacific island countries


Samoa, Tonga

Institutional barriers to climate finance through a gendered lens in Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands


Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands

Supporting greenhouse gas inventories and livestock data development in Fiji



Supporting the tracking sharing learning platform of the Adaptation Research Alliance





Finding a genetic basis for oil palm responses to basal stem rot in a long-term infected block


Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands



Half-pearl industry development in Tonga and Vietnam


Tonga, Vietnam

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

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: Developing methods for strengths-based livelihoods approach


Papua New Guinea

Strengthening agricultural resilience in Western Province: Mapping place-based strengths and assets


Papua New Guinea



Enabling community forestry in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

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

Kava land use changes


Fiji, Vanuatu



Adopting a gender-inclusive participatory approach to reducing horticultural food loss in the Pacific


Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga

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


Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

Developing the cocoa value chain in Bougainville


Papua New Guinea

Responding to emerging pest and disease threats to horticulture in the 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

PICfood: Driving vegetable food environments to promote healthy diets in Pacific island countries


Fiji, Samoa

Biosecurity planning


Cambodia, Papua New Guinea

Understanding school food provision in the Pacific: Scoping the potential of local food systems to improve diets, nutrition and livelihoods



Livestock Systems


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

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



Drug sensitive and resistant tuberculosis and zoonotic infections as causes of lymphadenitis in 3 provinces in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Development of a third party verified voluntary sustainable certification program for beef and other key commodities in Vanuatu



Strengthened surveillance for vector-borne zoonotic and livestock diseases in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

Social Systems


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



Climate-smart coastal landscapes for sustaining fisheries-based livelihoods and food security in the Pacific


Fiji, Tonga

Soil and Land Management


Better soil information for improving Papua New Guinea 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 island countries Phase 2: Investigating nutrient dynamics and the utility of soil information for better soil and crop management


Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu

Sustaining soil fertility in support of intensification of sweetpotato cropping systems


Papua New Guinea

Next Pacific island countries