Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

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Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
Agency overview
Jurisdiction Commonwealth Government
Headquarters Canberra, ACT, Australia
Employees 52
Minister responsible Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Agency executive Nick Austin, Chief Executive Officer
Parent Agency Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is an Australian Government statutory authority that operates within the portfolio of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Centre was established under the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Act 1982 (Cth), to assist and encourage Australian agricultural scientists to use their skills to identify and find solutions to agricultural problems of developing countries.

ACIAR aims to enhance rural household incomes and broader economic growth by investing in international research partnerships that encourage agricultural development, sustainable use of natural resources and capacity-building of benefit to partner countries and Australia.

ACIAR forms part of the Australian Government's overseas aid program and works toward the aid program's objective of assisting developing countries to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development in line with the national interest.

Collaborations and interactions[edit]

A scientist works in a laboratory at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya. Australia provides funding to the Institute through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), to improve African food security.

ACIAR works collaboratively with AusAID in areas of mutual priority, with both organisations contributing to the whole-of-Government emphases of the aid program.

A range of interactions occurs at the program and desk level. Joint AusAID and ACIAR initiatives include projects in Pakistan, East Timor, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Iraq, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

Research and development programs[edit]

ACIAR’s R&D programs are responsible for developing, monitoring and evaluating projects. These disciplines are broadly clustered around the areas of economics, crops, livestock and fisheries, and natural resource management.

Economics and Farming Systems

  • Agricultural Development Policy
  • Agribusiness
  • Agricultural Systems Management
  • Impact Assessments

Cropping Systems

  • Crop Improvement and Management
  • Cropping Systems and Economics
  • Horticulture
  • Pacific Crops

Livestock Systems

  • Animal Health
  • Fisheries
  • Livestock Production Systems

Natural Resource Management

  • Forestry
  • Land and Water Resources
  • Soil Management and Crop Nutrition

Australian International Food Security Centre[edit]

On 28 October 2011, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that the Australian Government would provide $36 million to establish a new international food security centre within ACIAR.

International Agricultural Research Centres[edit]

ACIAR is responsible for Australia’s relationship with CGIAR.

These funds are used to facilitate CGIAR engagement in the Asia-Pacific and to commission projects that are consistent with ACIAR’s country program strategies.

Australia also shares similar climatic and agricultural systems with many of its partners, as well as sharing similar challenges such as biosecurity, quarantine, climatic variation and water management.

Despite its relatively small size, ACIAR’s program of cooperative research has made a substantial contribution in its years of operations. ACIAR’s approach of linking developing country organisations with Australian research bodies to work in collaboration on agricultural problems of mutually recognised importance has delivered a cost-effective form of aid management that has contributed to substantial improvements in poverty reduction, food security and sustainability in the developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. ACIAR is an example of how cooperative research can lead to technological advance in agriculture in both recipient and donor countries.

ACIAR is based in Canberra, with offices in China, India (covering South Asia), Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (covering PNG and the Solomon Islands), the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand (covering the other Mekong countries). ACIAR is responsible for administering, on behalf of the Australian Government, Australia’s contribution to the International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs). The IARCs are internationally funded, independent, non-profit institutions that carry out research and related activities to help achieve sustainable food security and reduce poverty in developing countries.

The goal of ACIAR’s multilateral program is to ensure the effectiveness of, and benefits to, developing countries and Australia from agricultural research conducted by the IARCs with funds provided by Australia.

The system of International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs) comprises the institutions financed under the umbrella of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and non-associated Centres that also have a global mandate.

ACIAR policy is to allocate about 20% of its total appropriation to the IARCs. Total budgeted expenditure to these centres through the multilateral program in 2007-08 was $10.27 million.

This policy decision recognises that the mandate of the IARCs is highly relevant to the objectives of Australia’s aid program. The crop germplasm collections and crop mandates (e.g. tropical rice, maize, cassava and sweet potato) and advanced research facilities of the IARCs complement rather than duplicate, the genetic resources and agricultural R&D skills base and facilities in Australia and ACIAR’s partner countries.

ACIAR’s training program[edit]

Building capacity of agricultural research institutes in partner countries is one of ACIAR’s key priorities. The main priority of the program is to enhance the research capabilities of institutions and individuals involved in ACIAR projects. Much of this is done in individual projects through on-the-job training, where either developing-country scientists visit Australia or Australian specialists visit partner countries to present a training program.

ACIAR offers several specialised training activities:

  • John Allwright Fellowships
  • John Dillon Memorial Fellowships
  • cross-program training courses.

Postgraduate training–John Allwright Fellowships[edit]

John Allwright Fellowships are awarded to partner-country scientists involved in ACIAR-supported collaborative research projects to undertake postgraduate training, usually at the Masters or Doctoral level, at Australian universities. Studies focus on related areas to add value to the topic or theme of the ACIAR project in which the awardee is engaged, but do not directly form part of the project.

There is increased recognition by the Australian aid program of the capacity-building benefits provided to partner countries and the impact on Australia–regional relationships through support of postgraduate training in Australia. Since 2006, AusAID has supported the expansion of the program. During 2007–08, ACIAR expected to support more than 110 John Allwright Fellowships, of which about 40 were to be new awards.

ACIAR maintains linkages with all of the former students that were supported through the John Allwright Fellowship program, and who have now returned to their home countries, through the establishment of a ‘John Allwright Alumni Association’. Alumni keep involved with ACIAR in many ways.

Research management training–John Dillon Fellowships[edit]

John Dillon Fellowships provide a career development opportunity in Australia for outstanding mid-career agricultural scientists and economists from ACIAR partner countries. The aim is to develop the leadership skills of Fellows in the area of agricultural research management, agricultural policy and/or extension technologies through exposure to Australian agriculture across a range of best practice organisations involved in research, extension and/or policy-making. ACIAR has awarded 26 Fellowships since the program’s inception in 2002.

Cross-program training[edit]

Short-term ‘cross-program’ training activities in partner countries or, occasionally, Australia (for staff associated with active ACIAR projects) are also provided. Most of these activities are directly managed by ACIAR, but some activities are managed by the Crawford Fund ( The Crawford Fund also supports short technical training placements for developing-country scientists in Australia.

ACIAR Annual Operational Plan[edit]

The ACIAR Annual Operational Plan (AOP) is our[who?] key communications document on operational issues with partners and stakeholders. It is presented on a region/country basis, with priorities for each grouped into research program areas along with detailed project listings. The AOP provides a focal point for project development around these priorities. The AOP is the result of detailed consultations with partner countries, Australian organisations and government agencies.

The appendixes provide a range of detailed information including material on the benefits from ACIAR-funded research to Australia, engagement with NGOs and community-based organisations and various development indicators. See ACIAR Annual Operational Plan 2008-09.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]