The Australian International Food Security Research Centre Review
The Australian International Food Security Research Centre (AIFSRC), a centre within the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) was established in 2011 as a four-year initiative within the Australian Government’s enhanced Africa Food Security Initiative.
The AIRSRC responded to the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) priorities by investing in research on the barriers to research adoption by smallholder farmers and innovative means of partnering to accelerate agricultural research. AIFSRC projects have utilised Australia’s strength in agriculture, and those of key partners, to support 19 diverse initiatives in sustainable and integrated farming systems, livestock health and management, forestry systems, nutrition and food safety and improved water management. The AIFSRC has also established innovative partnerships with the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in forming the joint CultiAF research program which is particularly focussed on gender and nutrition research issues.
The AIFSRC also leveraged Australia’s strong plant biosecurity control capability to enhance the capacity of 10 countries to manage plant pest and diseases and, thereby, supporting intra-African and international trade.
The AIFSRC Review
The enhanced Africa Food Security Initiative concluded at 30 June 2015, but funding to ACIAR for the AIFSRC is non-lapsing. The conclusion of the Initiative presented a logical milestone for taking stock of progress and performance and assessing future options and directions. In April 2015, ACIAR commissioned an independent review of the AIFSRC with the specific objectives of examining the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the AIFSRC as a modality, and making recommendations for the future of the AIFSRC beyond 30 June 2015.
Two independent reviewers, Professor Tim Reeves and Dr Jim Ryan, undertook the review, and delivered a robust, evidence-based assessment. The reviewers found that AIFSRC had generally satisfied the criteria for appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency identified in the terms of reference. In some aspects, the AIFSRC had far exceeded expectations, while in others there were provisos that mainly related to the efficient and effective management of the ‘centre within a centre’ modality. Their report contained four options and made 12 recommendations. Click here to view the executive summary of the independent review.
The way forward
ACIAR has considered the report’s recommendations and, under the guidance of the Commission for International Agricultural Research and in consultation with colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs, has developed a clear and positive vision for future engagement in Africa.
ACIAR confirms its ongoing commitment to supporting agricultural research in Eastern and Southern Africa. Not less than 15% of ACIAR’s bilateral program expenditure will be directed to the region.
ACIAR is committed to maintaining long-term partnerships with our African colleagues and partners. All current projects delivered under AIFSRC will continue to completion and management processes will remain unchanged; new projects will be delivered as ACIAR – not AIFSRC - activities.
ACIAR is now moving to a unified ACIAR brand. Existing AIFSRC projects will maintain their AIFSRC branding, whilst new projects will be delivered with ACIAR branding. The AIFSRC website, newsletter and social media will be mainstreamed into regular communications for Africa.
The strengths and themes of the AIFSRC are being mainstreamed into ACIAR’s programs, with future projects in Africa to be delivered through ACIAR management methodologies.
ACIAR will continue to work to ensure that our activities deliver a united effort, aligning with other Australian aid investments in Africa.
Dr John Dixon has been assigned as the AIFSRC interim Director, until the substantive AIFSRC Director, Ms Mellissa Wood, returns from leave in November 2015. ACIAR’s physical presence in Africa will continue, under the leadership of our ACIAR Regional Manager, Ms Liz Ogutu and with the support of our Administration Assistant, Ms Karen D’Dimpsaar in Nairobi, Kenya.
ACIAR remains committed to Africa, and to more productive and sustainable agricultural systems, for the benefit of Africa and Australia, through international agricultural research partnerships.
Under the CAADP, ACIAR looks forward to working in partnership with African researchers, civil society, private sector partners, DFAT and international partners to ensure that our co-investments achieve maximum impact on the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers.
We particularly welcome the opportunity to work together to improve the livelihoods of women and girls and to build individual and institutional capacity.
For more information or to obtain a full copy of the independent review please contact
Ms Mellissa Wood
General Manager, Global Programs – ACIAR
Director – Australian International Food Security Research Centre
Phone: +61 2 6217 0531