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Operational plan: ACIAR sets agenda for foreign agriculture research

The Australian Centre of International Agricultural Research has published its Annual Operational Plan 2014-15.

The operational plan was developed in consultation with developing countries and Australian collaborators to produce realistic priorities for research partnerships, including annual deliverables towards the government’s aid policy and development objectives. ACIAR chief executive officer Nick Austin (pictured) states:

“Improvements in agricultural productivity actively contribute to the economic growth aspirations of our developing-country partners and Australia.

“ACIAR’s track record of collaborative research that enhances technology, sustainable productivity and market access for smallholders will continue to underpin the new initiatives and directions of the [Annual Operating Plan]. This includes a research emphasis on smallholder-based productivity improvements combined with enhanced market access and value chains, and socioeconomic and agricultural policy interventions. This approach, together with associated capacity-building provisions, represents a more systemic cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary system in ACIAR.

“The Government’s focus on reducing poverty and lifting living standards through sustainable economic growth, together with the emphasis in Australia and partner countries on food security and competitiveness, are important themes for ACIAR. An expanded approach to research adoption and capacity building at both individual and institutional levels is recognised across ACIAR’s activities.

“The broad geographic emphasis covers a renewed focus in the Asia–Pacific region, with an African research agenda based primarily on the Australian International Food Security Research Centre (AIFSRC) and the Sustainable Intensification of Maize–Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program. The continuing commitment to CGIAR, and active participation in its program design, effective delivery and accountability, is included in this AOP together with a summary progress report.

Also included in the plan is the work of the Australian International Food Security Research Centre (Food Security Centre), which was established within ACIAR in 2011, towards strengthening global food security. Its current programs include farming sustainability and evergreen agriculture in eastern Africa, family poultry and crop integration in Tanzania and Zambia, socioeconomic constrains on faster technology adoption in southern and eastern Africa, and the “forgotten resource” of farm power.

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