Indonesia, Timor-Leste & the Philippines
Due to its proximity and strategic importance to Australia, Indonesia is ACIAR’s largest partner, and collaborative projects primarily strive to reduce the large number of the Indonesian population living in poverty. This is especially relevant given the rapid rate of urbanisation which is occurring in Indonesia, leading to a marked increase in the demand of livestock products for human consumption. With the annual growth rate in domestic production lagging behind meat demand, as well as the increasing use of staple grain crops as animal feed rather than for direct human consumption, ACIAR and Indonesia are focused on increasing crop, livestock and aquaculture productivity to increase farmers’ income and provide sustainable resources for the country’s 231 million inhabitants.
Currently, Indonesian policies exist which limit the participation of smallholder farmers in marketing-chain adjustments. ACIAR projects aim to pilot policy changes which will allow new and competitive trading relationships and improve access for smallholder farmers into emerging markets. A growing demand for meat has increased the need for the management and control of animal-related disease, especially given its concern to human health. ACIAR aims to examine the ways in which control and funding agreement can be reached by the Indonesian government to address this concern. Disease control is also fundamental in the topical fruits sector, such as banana and citrus fruits, and ACIAR is already implementing new initiatives in the technical and marketing development of this commodity. ACIAR is also examining ways of improving crop management and profitability, by helping farmers link to markets, diversify farming systems and develop more robust agricultural options.
Agriculture provides livelihood for more than 80 per cent of the population of Timor-Leste. The similarities in the environments of Timor-Leste and northern Australia give ACIAR an advantage in applying research, development and extension skills. Current projects aim to help achieve food security, reduce poverty and build agricultural research capacity. Strategies have been developed in parallel with the Government of Timor-Leste to address three basic key objectives: strengthening basic health and education service delivery; increasing employment through investment in increasing agricultural productivity; and building the foundations of a safer community. ACIAR will specifically focus on increasing food security in Timor-Leste.
ACIAR’s program with the Philippines has been active since 1983, and is aimed at increasing productivity, marketability and international competitiveness for agricultural products. One of the primary aims of collaborative research between ACIAR and the Philippines is to improve smallholder and industry profitability and market competitiveness of industries including potato, tomato, bell pepper and leafy vegetables. This will be achieved through the improvement of soil fertility, the development of more-profitable off-season production, and the management of major pests and diseases. ACIAR is also working to address the landscape of Philippine farming, as the growth of much produce is carried out in fragile sloping environments or sensitive watersheds. In terms of fisheries and aquaculture, whilst demand for wild harvest fish is rising, the quantity of catches in the Philippines is declining. For over a decade, ACIAR has been working to develop and refine robust technologies for the culture and grow-out of high-value marine species such as mud-crab, grouper and giant clams.