Regional Program Summary

The East Asia region is experiencing the fastest rates of economic growth in the world. Between 2000 and 2006 an average 1 million people were lifted out of poverty every week in this region. This was largely due to the decisions of the better-performing countries to invest in people, capital and institutional change, including an increasing role of markets.

Despite the continuing strong economic performance of some countries in the region, other countries (e.g. Lao PDR and Timor-Leste) continue to experience high rates of rural poverty. Furthermore, large areas of rural poverty still exist in the better-performing countries. In Indonesia, for example, approximately 120 million people still live in poverty, with most being in rural areas and primarily dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. This trend of increasing urbanisation, population growth, and expansion of domestic markets for agricultural products is creating both opportunities and challenges for farmers and the rural poor.

ACIAR’s program in the East Asia region is the largest of all four regions where we operate but the percentage of projects that are regional is relatively small (12% of budget), reflecting the strong bilateral relationships that ACIAR has with countries in East Asia. Several factors drive the continued development of regional projects in East Asia:

  • Increasingly, expertise being developed in one country is being mobilised to assist other countries within the region (such as spiny lobster development in Indonesia, following an earlier project in Vietnam).
  • Our work with some countries within the region (especially China and Thailand) is predicated on the projects being regional (e.g. a new project on grasslands management being developed with China and Mongolia, and a climate-change adjustment project progressing with China and Vietnam).
  • ACIAR is actively pursuing opportunities for trilateral projects targeted at agricultural R&D support to third countries with co-funding by both ACIAR and one of the more developed economies in the region.
  • ASEAN’s drive towards regional integration and connectivity by 2015 is likely to create increasing demand from individual countries and regional bodies for research support that harmonises approaches in some agricultural issues across countries (e.g. biosecurity and food safety).

View the individual country pages for more details.

More information is available in the latest ACIAR Annual Operational Plan