Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced the first external review of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) since 1998.
Senator Carr said ACIAR is part of Australia's aid program and the external review will examine ACIAR's effectiveness in contributing to global food security and poverty alleviation.
"Five-hundred million people living in poverty rely on farming, trying to grow enough food for themselves and their families on areas as small as the size of an Australian suburban backyard," Senator Carr said.
"Improving agricultural productivity is essential to these smallholders achieving food security, overcoming poverty and building resilience to alleviate the impacts of climate change and famine.
"The 2011 independent aid review and the Australian Government's response highlighted the need to continue to deploy Australian research expertise in agriculture, as part of the aid program."
ACIAR teaches sustainable farming and agriculture practices in poorer countries, particularly in Africa and the Pacific.
They also invest research into identifying and eliminating disease causing pathogens from crops.
For example, in Papua New Guinea ACIAR conducted research to improve economic returns and incomes of sweet potato farmers and supply chain operators through the adoption of improved sweet potato marketing systems.
This will focus on reducing both post-harvest losses and the costs of marketing, while also identifying the major constraints to the adoption of postharvest technologies.
In the Philippines, ACIAR has worked to improve soil fertility, develop more-profitable off-season production, and manage major pest and diseases to improve food security.
The Australian Government has already committed to increasing support for ACIAR, and has previously noted the agency's impressive results, confirmed by independent evaluations.
The Review will be conducted by an external panel chaired by Mr Bill Farmer AO, former Head of Mission in the two largest recipients of Australian aid, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and a member of the 2011 Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness.
The panel will also include: Professor Ron Duncan from ANU's Crawford School of Public Policy; Dr Wendy Jarvie, an evaluation specialist with high-level public policy expertise; and Mr Terry Enright, a grain grower and livestock producer from Western Australia and former Chairman of the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
Senator Carr said the recommendations from this review will improve the Australian Government's contribution to improving global food security through international agricultural research.
The Terms of Reference and further details of the Review are available at www.aciarreview.info
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