Australia’s strategic approach to African aid during 2011–15 is to help selected African countries progress the MDGs. The focus will be on areas where Australia has particular strengths, where progress is seriously off track and where strong frameworks exist for achieving effective results. One core strategy to tackle poverty and food insecurity is to increase agricultural productivity through farming systems intensification, diversification and improved market access.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the most food-insecure region in the world, with one in three people suffering from chronic hunger. Low food crop productivity, rising food prices, increased fuel costs and the global recession have worsened food and nutrition security outcomes. ACIAR is assisting with delivering a major component (approximately A$20 million over 4 years) of the Australian Government’s enhanced engagement with Africa through the Overseas Development Assistance – Food Security through Rural Development initiative. Australian support (of A$100 million over 4 years) is aligned with the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and Australia’s expertise in rainfed mixed farming systems.
The research program is concentrated in two Sub-Saharan African regions: eastern–central and southern. Each region has a different focus, which has emerged from consultations with partners. In southern Africa the research focus is on livestock and cropping systems for disadvantaged farmers in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe; and on water security in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In eastern and central Africa the research focuses on the intensification and increased resilience in mixed farming systems, to achieve improved dietary energy and nutritional quality, and increased household income. Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan are benefiting from this research through organised spillovers of the results.