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$31.9 billion is a significant return on investment in any language, the more so when
the upfront expenditure is about $2 billion. A recent meta-analysis of impacts from a
selection of ACIAR projects, independently assessed to determine economic returns,
found $31.9 billion as the total benefits accruing. The $2.3 billion is the total expenditure by
ACIAR in three decades of research.
Some $2.2 billion of those benefits accrue back to Australian agriculture. This dividend
reflects the flow of benefits between partner countries (more than 90% of project outcomes)
and Australia (around 7–10% of returns). ACIAR’s international reputation is built on the
outcomes of projects reaching poor smallholder farmers, helping them to escape poverty.
Inevitably the returns overseas will be greater because that is the primary focus of the
research and the base to build on is far lower than that of Australian agriculture.
ACIAR achieves such high returns by creating partnerships that meet the priorities of
our partner countries. Because these partnerships intersect with Australian expertise, some
benefits inevitably accrue back home. To paraphrase Derek Tribe, by doing good overseas we
also do well here in Australia.
These benefits are not exclusively spill-over benefits in the true meaning of that term;
benefits come from engaging Australian scientists on mutual problems shared with
developing countries. Doing research that links Australian and partner country research
scientists provides a domestic focus on similar problems.
From this research Australia gains:
n knowledge and expertise, building our domestic research capacity
exposure to the control and management of exotic pests and diseases offshore
n potential trade opportunities
access to germplasm for the species – all introduced – that we farm
n funding for some niche industries and commodities otherwise attracting limited or no
new industries and commodity opportunities
n innovations in farm management and improved approaches to regulatory compliance
n improved land, soils and water management.
These benefits add significantly to a range of Australian agricultural initiatives. This
issue of Partners tells some of the stories of those benefits and the people who help make
People such as Dr Jes Sammut, whose involvement with ACIAR highlights how this
engagement works so well domestically as well as internationally. His work with ACIAR has
led to new breakthroughs on a previously little-understood fish disease and its link to the
exposure of soils by farmers. The result is a national management strategy in Australia and a
range of policy initiatives in Indonesia.
Or Dr Sam Periyannan, who grew up on a farm in India and who has made a crucial
contribution to a joint ACIAR, CSIRO and Grains Research and Development Corporation
study that isolated a gene providing resistance against the stem rust Ug99, which was
threatening wheat yields across the Middle East and India and is considered a grave threat
to Australia’s industry, should it find its way here.
Among the contributions to Australian agriculture also reported are: research into cereal
drought tolerance; the emergence of an Australian sandalwood industry; a range of efforts
to strengthen offshore quarantine and to protect fishing resources shared with our nearest
neighbours; research that is helping Australian farmers save water; and the conservation of
important germplasm. All have as a common feature: ACIAR research funding. The benefits
that accrue are significant.
Through ACIAR’s partnership model opportunities to link domestic skills and needs to
international development help create wins for all partners.
As the CEO of Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation says on page 7: “Linking domestic
RD&E priorities with ACIAR’s work in developing countries is critical to ensuring that Australian
agriculture continues to benefit from investment in international RD&E.” n
Benefits to Australia
ACIAr in Australia
From Australia to the world:
Growing our knowledge and
the world’s farmers
only as good as your people
Australian aid inspires young
the funds that make a difference
Secure borders and the overseas
engagements that protect agriculture 12
the animal diseases that did
not reach Australia
In defence of Australia’s trees
In support of the banana industry 16
Invasion by alien air-breathing
Innovation and entrepreneurs
CoNtrIbutIoNS to AGrICulturAl SeCtorS
barramundi with a side serve
of lotus flower
Seafood lovers help champion
Seeing the forest and the trees
Climate change exacerbates
the livestock feed gap
of giant clams and live rock:
To paraphrase Derek Tribe, by doing good overseas
we also do well here in Australia.
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), aciar.gov.au
GPO Box 1571, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
© Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act
1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission
ISSN 1031-1009 (Print)
ISSN 1839-616X (Online)
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