1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2007   
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Contents >> International Relations >> Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)


    ACIAR is a statutory authority within the Australian Government's Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio. As part of Australia’s aid program the Centre assists Australian and developing country researchers, institutions and international research centres to develop solutions to agricultural problems. The objective is to assist developing countries improve their livelihoods through sustainable increases in agricultural productivity and enhanced natural resources management. Government appropriation for ACIAR in 2005-06 was $49.3m. The Centre focuses its research funding on the Asia-Pacific region and 80% of ACIAR’s research and development expenditure is allocated to bilateral programs. The remaining 20% is allocated to multilateral programs involving selected international agricultural research centres through unrestricted grants and project specific funding.

    In 2005-06, ACIAR funded more than 200 research projects in countries in the Asia-Pacific region. ACIAR programs are organised around four clusters: economics/farming systems; cropping systems; livestock systems; and natural resource management.

    Through close collaboration with partner government policy makers and research institutions, the projects are designed to promote policy initiatives, capacity building and knowledge and technology exchanges. Increasingly, delivery of benefits to farmers, policy makers and natural resource managers is being achieved by utilising pilot-scale delivery of research outcomes, through research partners and where appropriate NGOs and other agencies. The projects reflect the themes of the national research priorities such as environmental sustainability including water, soil loss, salinity and acidity; and safeguards with a focus on invasive pests and diseases.

    The White Paper, Australian Aid: Promoting Growth and Stability (2006), outlines priorities for the overseas aid program over the next decade. These include an increased focus on better quality education in the Asia-Pacific region. ACIAR develops the skills of partner country research scientists through formal training courses and informally through project activities. The Centre has in place a Fellowship Scheme that creates over 50 post-graduate educational opportunities at Australian universities for developing country scientists involved in ACIAR projects. In 2005-06 the Centre supported 57 active Fellowships allowing students from 14 developing countries to study for postgraduate qualifications in Australia. ACIAR also manages research management training fellowships for agricultural scientists and economists from partner countries. Ten training courses, including master classes provided through the ATSE Crawford Fund, were held for scientists involved in ACIAR-supported research.

    Another key component of the 2006 White Paper is assessing the impacts and effectiveness of aid delivered by Australia. ACIAR has an Impact Assessment Program that commissions independent economic reviews of selected past projects and the outcomes arising from these. These assessments focus on the adoption of outcomes by examining economic returns and the role of these returns in alleviating poverty. A major review in 2005 of 29 past impact assessments showed that the benefits from adoption of project outcomes totals around $3.4b to Asia Pacific developing countries. A separate review was undertaken in 2006 of Australian benefits arising from the same group of 29 impact assessments, together with an additional 12 impact assessments and a randomly selected group of five research areas. The results revealed benefits to Australia from these 46 assessments totalling $735m.

    ACIAR is committed to communicating the results of research it funds through scientific publications as well as research and development awareness publications. The publishing program is complemented by the flagship quarterly Partners magazine, which aims to communicate the benefits of ACIAR research to a wider range of audiences, general and scientific.

    Further information can be obtained from the ACIAR web site, <http://www.aciar.gov.au>. The site allows visitors to search for project information by country, or by research discipline and to find out about ACIAR activities.

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