ACIAR in Africa: A side event at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Lusaka, Zambia
In October, ACIAR CEO Nick Austin and Regional Manager for Africa, Liz Ogutu hosted an informal event for key stakeholders in the region attending the African Green Revolution Forum – ACIAR in Africa. The Head of Mission, HE Suzanne McCourt kindly introduced the event with some remarks about Australia’s aid in the region.
The Ambassador highlighted the importance of development in Africa and the relationship with Australia; how both continents can work on building prosperity in the region and the role that agriculture and ACIAR plays in this sphere with the purpose of strengthening trade, business and investment partnerships to build a brighter future for the region.
Nick Austin described the similarity between Australia’s early prosperity dependence on agricultural productivity and Africa’s path to progress. He pointed out that agricultural research played a pivotal role in Australia’s elevation to exporting food and that Africa could reach these levels if sufficiently supported with appropriate agricultural technologies. Many agricultural zones in Africa share similar landscape with Australia and this advantage makes ACIAR the ideal partner for implementing and building the capacity of research in eastern and southern Africa.
Nick went on to provide a summary of the review of the Australian International Food Security research Centre (AIFSRC) and ACIAR’s management response to the review. He thanked those who contributed to the review and described the complimentary nature of the report which positively outlines the strong achievements of staff and project teams. Of note is that the Centre’s activities in four years, have already reached over 200,000 farmers through innovative technologies, such as two-wheeled tractors, small-scale irrigation monitoring, demand-led innovative production and markets to help household nutrition and food security. The review generated a ‘robust evidence base’ and commended the AIFSRC’s commitment to the themes of nutrition-sensitive agriculture, gender-sensitive approaches and accelerating adoption.
ACIAR now has a clear vision for its future in Africa:
- It is committing to maintaining long-term partnerships with African colleagues and partners;
- It will maintain a physical presence in Kenya, ably led by Liz Ogutu;
- All current projects delivered under the Food Security Centre will continue to completion and management processes will remain unchanged;
- The strengths and themes of the Food Security Centre will be mainstreamed into ACIAR’s programs, with future projects in Africa to be delivered through ACIAR management methodologies; and
- All new projects will transition to ACIAR branding
ACIAR and AIFSRC activities will now present as a united effort, aligning with other Australian aid investments in Africa. There is Government backing to maintain a relative funding commitment in Eastern and Southern Africa at 15% of ACIAR’s bilateral program expenditure.
ACIAR intends to remain a ‘trusted and transparent partner’ across all supported activities in Africa!