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Our Research Programs

ACIAR’s research programs help developing countries use science and technology to solve local problems

ACIAR's research structure focuses on ten programs of work. The programs cover key agricultural sectors (crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry), the science needed to sustain the resource base (soil and land management, and water and climate), as well as the disciplines that generate economic and social benefits including agribusiness and social sciences.

Additionally an impact evaluation program assesses the achievements of ACIAR's research and guides future investment decisions.



Farmers in Vietnam weighing a bag of cassava


The Agribusiness Program aims to give smallholders and their chain partners new knowledge and skills underpinning their participation in effective agri-food value chains and accessing suitable markets. The program addresses the full supply chain for agricultural products, including input supply, production, post-harvest processing, logistics and storage and marketing issues.

Hands holding seed in a field


The Crops Program aims to increase productivity, sustainability and utilisation of major crops by applying genetic and agronomic innovations to cropping systems of mutual importance to Australia and our partner countries.

fish farming


Fish is the most important protein source in many low- and middle-income countries. The Fisheries Program aims to build an understanding of the technical constraints and the socioeconomic contributions of fisheries livelihoods to help researchers to develop appropriate technologies and policy recommendations to support fisheries development in our partner countries.

Man measuring tree


The Forestry Program seeks to sustainably increase the social, economic and environmental benefits of forests to meet the needs of future generations, particularly the livelihoods of rural poor. The program also seeks to enhance environmental integrity and natural asset stewardship. Areas of focus include agroforestry, forest restoration, timber processing and forest biosecurity.

Researchers studying banana plants


The Horticulture Program aims to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of fruit, vegetable, ornamental and beverage crop production in low- and middle-income countries and Australia. Its emphasis is on improving production practice to improve yield and to minimise pre- and post-harvest loss, working along the supply chain.

Researcher and farmer talking in Indonesia

Portfolio Planning and Impact Evaluation

Our Portfolio Planning and Impact Evaluation Program helps us to refine our priorities, learn the lessons from current and past projects, as well as enable accountability to the Minister, the Australian Government and the wider Australian public.

A farmer in Pakistan providing drinking water for her cattle

Livestock Systems

The Livestock Systems Program is focused on improving the livelihoods of smallholder producers, including those moving towards semi-commercialisation. Through better understanding livestock trade and market access, and supporting smallholders to address these in a sustainable way, the broader contributions of livestock to the lives and livelihoods of smallholders are increasingly reinforced.

A family in Vietnam packing cassava into a bag

Social Sciences

The Social Sciences Program supports transdisciplinary research projects that deliver innovation and accelerate poverty reduction by engaging with people as active agents. Approaches include human geography, anthropology, rural sociology, sociology, education and political science. The Program’s key research areas are agricultural extension, gendered social relations, women’s empowerment, smallholder livelihoods, and climate adaptation.

watering and harvesting shallots

Soil and Land Management

The Soil and Land Management Research Program addresses gaps in knowledge and technology available on the management, nature and function of agricultural soil and land. The program develops practical and sustainable solutions to problems, constraints and challenges facing smallholder farmers in South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Ground water tap

Water and Climate

Water scarcity and changing climate are threatening agricultural production and food security worldwide. ACIAR’s Water and Climate Program supports research to build climate-resilient farming systems that use water efficiently and sustainably.