Regional Program Summary

The similarity of the farming environments of North Africa and southern Australia is apparent, given that large areas have virtually identical Mediterranean-type climates and rural livelihoods depend on wheat/barley or wheat/barley–sheep/goats-based farming systems. The Mediterranean drylands of the Middle East (including Iraq) and North Africa face many constraints similar to those in the southern or western Australian cereal belts. The Australian science successes that have underpinned growth in crop–livestock productivity in Australian wheat–sheep farming systems are internationally recognised. Australian public- and private-sector scientists have been partnering with Middle East and North Africa researchers for more then 3 decades to pilot and adapt Australian best farming practice to the Middle East. In the process, Australian farmers have benefited from a deeper knowledge of the range of adaptation of Australian practices, which strengthens the resilience of Australian farming, and also from the importation of germplasm of leguminous crops and pastures from the region.

In recent years, advances in salinity management in irrigated systems have underlined the relevance of lessons from the Murray–Darling Basin to the irrigated systems of the Middle East and North Africa, including those of the Nile Delta.

More recently and to a greater degree than in any other region, there is also considerable interest from Australian farmers in North African agriculture.

Within this context, all ACIAR projects have been funded by the AusAID (now DFAT) budget. However, recent revision of the DFAT – Australian Aid program’s priorities has led to reduced allocations to the region. Therefore, an orderly phasing out of ACIAR-supported projects is underway.

View the individual country pages for more details.

More information is available in the latest ACIAR Annual Operational Plan