Friday, 16 June 2017

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

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

Friday, 9 June 2017

Fisheries projects in focus

World Oceans Day on June 8 is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. ACIAR has been involved in ocean research for many years and things are going swimmingly in our fisheries projects. We’re currently funding ocean-based research in countries from Kiribati to Vietnam and Tanzania, and in Australia.
Young sandfish in Kiribati

Our Fisheries program works to make fisheries and aquatic farming systems more productive and sustainable in our partner countries. Fisheries contribute to food security, alleviate poverty and prevent malnutrition in the developing world.

Ocean tilapia seedstock in Indonesia

Here’s a sample of what we’re doing in the world of oceans:
ACIAR is helping Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to manage community-based fisheries and improving community-based aquaculture in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, and Vanuatu. Inshore fisheries and marine resources supply daily protein and income for villagers and coastal people in Pacific Island Countries.  

In Papua New Guinea, we are developing aquaculture planning systems for management agencies and improving fish husbandry techniques for small-scale fish farmers. We are developing the mariculture sector and working with the government to reduce illegal activity and over-exploitation of marine resources in the Torres Strait. 

Culture-based fisheries can increase fish production and improve rural community well-being. ACIAR is developing culture-based fisheries in Cambodia and Myanmar. In South-East Asia, we are helping Vietnam and the Philippines to farm giant groupers. In Indonesia, we are reducing the effects of disease by developing strategies to manage the health of finfish.  In Timor-Leste we are working to improve livelihoods and resource management in coastal communities.
Small scale fishing on the Ayewarwady Delta, Myanmar

Sea cucumbers are a highly valued commodity consumed as food or medicine in Asia, and their harvest supports livelihoods in coastal communities throughout Asia and the Pacific.  Sea cucumbers are worth $20–50 million per year in exports from Pacific island countries; the second most valuable marine export from the region after tuna.  ACIAR is developing commercial-scale hatcheries for sea cucumbers in Vietnam and the Philippines and working on post-harvest processing in Kiribati, Tonga and Fiji. 

Cultured pearls are the Pacific region’s most valuable and highest priority aquaculture commodity.  Pearl culture is compatible with traditional lifestyles and provides several opportunities for generating income.  ACIAR is supporting pearl industries in Fiji, Tonga, and Papua New Guinea.  In Fiji, we are also researching pearl oyster mortality and establishing a commercial giant clam hatchery, to help the industry to recover from Cyclone Winston. We are now looking at developing a pearl culture in coastal Tanzania, using the methods we’ve developed over recent times in the Pacific.
Ocean seaweed farming  in Indonesia

Seaweed is an important commodity for aquaculture in the Pacific.  Seaweeds are produced for food and as industrial products throughout the Pacific, and many communities rely on this income.  ACIAR is diversifying seaweed industries in Fiji, Samoa and Kiribati. Indonesia is the world’s second largest producer of seaweeds, and we are improving the country’s seaweed production and processing opportunities.

Lobsters are a premium seafood, in great demand in China and elsewhere, and farming lobsters can provide poor coastal villages with a valuable and sustainable enterprise.  We are expanding shiny lobster aquaculture in Indonesia, and helping the government to improve marine lobster resources through habitat rehabilitation and restocking.  

On crustaceans, we are improving the management of the Gulf of Papua prawn fishery, and helping Papua New Guinea to export its products to the United States.  We are also increasing hatchery-based bivalve mollusk production in Vietnam. 

We are building the capacity of local fishery agencies.  We are training staff at the Papua New Guinean National Fisheries Authority in research and project management skills and improving fish identification and fisheries monitoring in Indonesia. 

The small fisheries team at ACIAR is keeping pretty busy with all these ocean research projects, from pearls to sea cucumbers to fishery monitoring systems.
Fishing families depend on fish passage in Laos

Here’s a full list of our current fishery projects: