Today on June 17 we mark the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the United Nations’ day to raise awareness of international co-operation to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Long, severe drought can devastate crops, while hotter temperatures and scarce water could put more people at risk from diseases. When food becomes scarce, rising prices put more people into poverty.
Food security, and agriculture for different conditions are important to ACIAR. Our mission is to achieve more productive and sustainable agricultural systems and to make food systems more resilient, for the benefit of developing countries and Australia, through international agricultural research partnerships.
We are developing climate-resistant livestock and drought-resistant crops, and helping farmers to improve their water management and become more resilient to climate change through our research on climate smart practices.
Water scarcity and high salinity threaten the livelihoods of millions of farmers in India and Bangladesh. We are making water use more efficient and increasing wheat yield in the rain-fed and minimally irrigated zones of India, earlier sowing makes water use more efficient and helps to avoid drought.
Many livestock farmers in Afghanistan have limited access to water. To help them feed their animals, we are designing forage options that need little water. Afghanistan also has one of the highest per capita wheat consumptions in the world but does not produce enough to meet domestic demands. We are introducing new, high-yielding, drought-tolerant and disease-resistant varieties of wheat and maize to the country.
We are improving the livelihoods of smallholders in arid and saline areas of Pakistan by introducing saltbush germplasm from Australia, a drought and salt-tolerant perennial shrub that farmers can use to feed small ruminants.
In Africa, we are modernizing the Ethiopian sorghum breeding program at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. Sorghum is crucial to food security in Africa as its capacity to better tolerate drought, high temperature, and low fertility make it a preferred crop to maize. Drought still causes significant crop losses and food insecurity in major sorghum growing regions in Ethiopia.
ACIAR projects are helping groups of smallholders in developing countries to grow successful crops, despite drought conditions and climate variability. We hope that what we learn in these projects can help wider groups of farmers into the future.
Read about this work:
Better water use in wheat growing in India
A targeted approach to sorghum improvement in Ethiopia
Growing saltbush in Pakistan to feed ruminant animals
Sustainable wheat and maize production in Afghanistan
Forage options for smallholder livestock in water-scarce environments of Afghanistan