Friday, 14 October 2016

ACIAR committed to gender equity, food security and working to eradicate poverty globally

This week ACIAR joins the world in celebrating the International Day of Rural Women (15 October), World Food Day (16 October) and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October).

Globally, women comprise on average 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, and more than 50% in some parts of Asia and Africa. Research shows giving women access to agricultural resources, training and services helps them increase their farm productivity by 20 to 30%. As women gain increased control of household resources the outcomes for the next generation are improved, and women have a greater role in decision making.

ACIAR recognises the critical role women play in rural economies to grow food and help alleviate poverty. We all know women can be powerful agents of change—this is an important consideration when research and development programs are conceived, structured and delivered. ACIAR’s policy views gender equity as central to its activities. ACIAR assesses gender equity issues during project design, implementation and impact assessment to bring sustained change to women and men by influencing policies and laws, increasing access to services and changing attitudes and beliefs about women’s and men’s roles in our agricultural research projects. By working to better understand access to—and decision-making power over—productive resources such as land, livestock, agricultural equipment, extension knowledge and credit, ACIAR is better able to guide research on agricultural interventions so that benefits are accessible to women, men, girls and boys

Below is a collection of stories that demonstrate ACIAR’s commitment to gender equity, food security and working towards a world where no one lives in poverty.

In Papua New Guinea, a fisheries project has far greater influence thanks to the participation of women 
The aim of the PNG inland aquaculture research project is to improve the practice of fish farming in a region where 80% of the population is unemployed, experiences protein deficiency and is subject to recurring tribal and gang violence. The project has been especially beneficial to women because of an innovative training program managed by Sister Pauline Kagl.

“Every person, whether they are the perpetrator of crime or the victim, can change their lives. Time and time again we have transformed people through the combined action fo fish farming and personal viability training” – Sister Pauline Kagl.

Sister Pauline Kagl (right) in Jiwaka province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Jes Sammut
Blazing a trail for women in tree breeding in Vietnam
In Vietnam, significant steps towards gender equality have opened up new opportunities for
women. ACIAR is contributing by supporting talented women—such as Dr Nghiem Quyen
Chi—to pursue careers in agricultural research.

With ACIAR support, talented young women in developing countries are building their careers in agricultural research, with benefits that span individual, societal and national levels.

Check out this video about the project. 

Tropical acacias play an important role in Vietnam's forestry systems. Helping to ensure the acacias' performance is Dr Nghiem Quyen Chi of the Vietnamese Academy of Forest Sciences. Photo: Sally Ingleton

Left behind women find empowerment in the eastern Gangetic Plain
An A$11 million project has been launched to improve the sustainability and resilience of farming systems in a region with the greatest concentration of rural poverty in the world—the eastern Gangetic Plain.

Women-headed households especially stand to benefit, with the project adopting gender-sensitive designs and extension tools.

Out-migration has given rise to a new caste - the so-called 'left behind' women. Photo: Melissa Marion.
A horticulture project is helping women in Lao PDR villages produce and jointly market a surplus of organic vegetables
Women in Lao PDR villages are producing and jointly marketing a surplus of organic vegetables, increasing their family income while improving consumer health and environmental sustainability.
ACIAR support is helping the women’s association spread economic benefit by expanding its
organised marketing from fewer than 30 women to include more than 160.

Mrs Khamdta (right) has turned her garden into a model of integrated organic farming. She is pictured with Ms Buachanh, the president of the board of directors of the organic vegetable growers’ association, which is expanding market opportunities for farmers such as Mrs Khamdta. Photo: Michael Jones 

A team led by Associate Professor Robyn Alders has pioneered an effective way to treat malnutrition among smallholder farmers through the use of a vaccine that protects poultry from Newcastle disease. First trialled in three African countries, the method is now being adopted in other countries, including Timor-Leste.
Carolina Mwaluko (right) works as a “community vaccinator” in her village in central Tanzania, administering a thermotolerant vaccine as an eye drop to chickens in exchange for a small fee from farmers. Vaccination programs against Newcastle disease, a key production constraint in many developing countries, allow chicken flocks to increase in size and households to benefit from the sale or consumption of poultry products. Since Carolina was trained in May 2014, local traders have noticed the greater availability of chickens for sale and the reduced risk of disease among birds in transit to regional markets. Sustainable Newcastle disease control programs are part of an integrated approach to increasing income and improving nutrition for households in Tanzania and Zambia. Photo: Robyn Alders
In Pakistan’s dairy sector, women and children proved instrumental in the adoption of productivity-improving know-how, both as farmers and extension officers
Innovation in the way extension services are delivered to Pakistan’s subsistence dairy farmers is raising productivity. Women and children proved instrumental to the rollout of productivity-enhancing extension services to Pakistan’s dairy sector. Women have helped raise productivity both as farmers
Sobia Majeed (centre) with some of the female dairy farmers she worked with in Sindh, Pakistan, over the four projects in which extension services were innovated and tested in partnership with ACIAR. Photo: ACIAR
Women farmers in Vietnam’s impoverished north-western highlands are the essential ingredient needed to solve a set of inter-related nutrition, poverty and marketing problems involving vegetables
Vietnam’s north-west provinces face a dual need for improved vegetable production systems and access to markets. An ACIAR project working to achieve both goals in ways that reduce poverty and malnutrition has found that the key to success is women.

This video will tell you more.

Mother and child in Vietnam's north-western highlands. Photo: Phan Thuy Hien
Women in the Philippines take the lead
In 2015, the Philippines climbed to ninth in the World Economic Forum’s report measuring gender equality among 145 countries, the highest rank in the Asia–Pacific region. The strength of women is on display in an ACIAR project that is helping smallholder vegetable producers in the southern Philippines overcome low yields, pests and diseases so as to meet local market demand and improve nutrition and livelihoods.

(From left) Dr Zenaida Gonzaga, Dr Lucia Borines and Dr Reny Gerona. Photo: ACIAR.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The impacts of climate change on agriculture the focus of the PAC’s visit to Australia

Another successful meeting of ACIAR’s Policy Advisory Council (PAC) was held in Australia last week, with a strong focus on the strategic issues related to climate change, specifically its impact on agriculture in the Indo-Pacific Region.

Members of the Policy Advisory Council outside ACIAR House in Canberra. Photo: ACIAR

Friday, 23 September 2016

From Canberra to Port Moresby – my journey in ACIAR

I started at ACIAR at the reception desk on a part-time, two-week contract to backfill leave. That was twelve years, and what feels like a lifetime ago. I worked from the Canberra office for almost five years, in a range of roles across the research, executive and communication teams. I had a great time, largely because of the wonderful team and great working atmosphere at ACIAR.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Working for ACIAR in the Africa regional office

My favourite Australian expression is, “Have a go,” and through my four years with the ACIAR regional office in Africa, I have used this motto to do what I have to, to support our activities in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).
Liz (right) with farmers and their sweetpotato harvest (in the bag) in Zimbabwe. Photo: Liz Ogutu.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Leading Australian agricultural scientists brought together at Climate Smart Agriculture Workshop in Canberra

With an expanding population and a changing climate how can we begin to unravel some of the world’s greatest production problems? Growing more food on less land with an increasingly variable climate will present a suite of challenges to both urban and rural populations worldwide. It’s clear that farmers are already adapting to what is a shifting climate both here in Australia and abroad, but there is more to be done. Science has a critical role to play in brokering knowledge on past trends, future predictions and possible tools for mitigating and adapting to this scenario.

Participants introduce themselves at the Climate Smart Agriculture Workshop in Canberra. Photo: ACIAR

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Biofortification for better nutrition - Dr Howarth Bouis at the National Press Club.

A panel of scientists from Adelaide, Melbourne and Flinders Universities, and partner World Vision Australia shared the stage at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday to discuss nutrition, agricultural research and the development impacts of biofortification.

Hosted by ACIAR, The Crawford Fund and the National Rural Press Club and lead by Dr Howarth Bouis, Director and Founder of HarvestPlus and winner of this year’s World Food Prize, the panel presented contemporary and historic perspectives on biofortification: the nutritional value of staple foods and their connection to “hidden hunger” in the developing world. 

Dr Bouis, Director of HarvestPlus with Mellissa Wood, General Manager Global Programs, ACIAR.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Testing “Chameleon” and “FullStop” equipment at ACIAR HQ in Canberra

ACIAR has been funding projects in Africa, and soon in Pakistan, to help irrigators manage their water better (LWR/2014/085 and LWR/2014/074). This work has been conceived as the “Virtual Irrigation Academy” (VIA), an online environment where growers and researchers can learn together using simple tools about how to manage irrigation water and nutrients better.

The research has developed the Chameleon Soil Water Sensor which measures how hard it is for plants to suck water out of the soil and the data is displayed as coloured lights. It can measure the soil moisture at three depths in the ground. The light for each sensor can turn from blue (soil wet) to green (soil moist) to red (soil dry).