[ASC-media] Agricultural Research Pays its way

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Tue Apr 5 13:20:25 CEST 2011


Embargo: 6 April 2011


Benefit/Cost and Impact of Australian Research Partnerships

Agricultural research partnerships are both effective and efficient forms of
international development assistance, making a real difference to the
livelihoods of the poor and assisting Australian farmers along the way.  

This is the conclusion drawn by the Australian Centre for International
Agricultural Research (ACIAR) after many years of assessing the impact of
its research and development (R&D) programs. It was explained in an address
to almost 200 delegates at the Crawford Fund's inaugural State Parliamentary
Conference, A Food Secure World: Challenging Choices for our North held in
Parliament House, Brisbane on 6 April. The event includes international and
Australian specialists discussing issues around food security of particular
relevance and topicality to Queensland. 

ACIAR's Principal Advisor, Dr Simon Hearn told conference delegates that the
Centre's long history of assessing its R&D investment impacts provides
valuable lessons for improving the selection, design, and delivery of R&D
projects to ensure they are most beneficial. 

"ACIAR commissions independent economic reviews of suites of projects to
determine the levels of economic impacts arising from collaborative research
work and capacity building initiatives," he said. "An impact assessment
analysis of 120 ACIAR projects demonstrated they provided total benefits of
A$31.6 billion (A$15.9 billion attributable to ACIAR), from an outlay of
A$372 million."

Some of the outstanding results include ACIAR's investment in fisheries
projects in Indonesia with a benefit:cost ratio (BCR) of 52:1, breeding and
feeding pigs in Vietnam (BCR 159:1), and in research identifying the sex
pheromone of the sugar cane borer moth in Papua New Guinea, a BCR 46:1.
"Although not all assessments provide ratios of this magnitude, the overall
returns remain impressive."

"These and other studies demonstrate the value of agricultural research
partnership investments as an increasingly important part of Australia's
development assistance program, a relevant consideration in the context of
food security and development debates in Australia and overseas," Dr Hearn

Dr Hearn also highlighted the benefits that ACIAR-funded projects to
Australian agriculture.  "Based on earlier independent estimates, the
aggregate returns to Australia of ACIAR investments were around A$1.2
billion in 2008 dollar equivalents, or 10% of the total returns."  These
benefits came in the form of new production technology, protection from
pests and diseases, increased trade benefits, and increasing the knowledge
of Australian researchers.

"ACIAR is continuing to strengthen its impact assessment program by
assessing and measuring the environmental and social benefits from R&D, the
adoption impacts on wider rural development and poverty alleviation, and by
ascertaining more accurately the contributions of technical research to
development and poverty reduction," Dr Hearn said.

"With three quarters of the world's poor living in rural areas and relying
on agriculture, including fisheries and forests, for livelihoods, research
and extension will provide the vital connection for productivity growth to
meet the estimated need for 70% increase in food supply by 2050," he said.

For further information and to arrange interviews at the conference contact:
Cathy Reade, Crawford Fund 0413 575 934 or Mandy Gyles, ACIAR  0419 427 278
gyles at aciar.gov.au


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