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Agriculture and food security

Agricultural Development and Food Security

2020-21 total Australian ODA [budget estimate]
$242.2 million

Partnerships for recovery and agricultural development and food security

Global agricultural markets and food trade has remained reasonably resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia continues to be a strong advocate for a free and open trading system.

There have, however, been pressures on food security and this situation is continuing as the pandemic unfolds.

In our region there are three key ways in which food security has been impacted in some of our partner countries

    1. Local supply chains have been affected mainly through disruptions to transport and the operation of markets.
    2. Local food production systems, some of which were under strain before COVID-19, are facing additional pressure arising from population movements and climate extremes.
    3. Reduced incomes are also leading to increased food insecurity, particularly for those who have lost jobs and incomes as a result of COVID-19.  

Mindful of the dynamic nature of the crisis, we continue, in collaboration with partner governments and other development actors, to monitor food security issues across SE Asia and the Pacific. We are also engaged in targeted investments in small-scale agriculture and fisheries to increase the availability and affordability of local, nutritious foods which are vital for health and long-term wellbeing.

Agriculture will play an important role in the recovery and in building resilience. Agriculture is a major source of pro-poor growth in developing countries with large rural populations. Meeting future food demand in a sustainable way will require major advances in productivity, market systems, natural resource management and governance. As the world's population grows, demand for food and agricultural products will continue to rise. These pressures compounded by COVID-19 economic disruptions and climate change, will strain the world's resources in a way that could limit future prosperity and contribute to conflict and population displacement.

How we are helping

Australia is a trusted regional leader in agricultural and fisheries innovation. Through our development program we are harnessing our expertise to help communities in our region to achieve greater productivity, sustainability, climate-resilience and food security.

We are also helping partners in our region to tackle emerging agricultural biosecurity threats in order to safeguard livelihoods and agricultural trade.

Our approach is built around our strong and enduring relationships with the aim of scaling-out beneficial farming and fisheries technologies and approaches. We work in partnership with Governments, the private sector, NGOs and other community partners as well as with regional organisations and other donors.

Australia advocates a comprehensive approach to agriculture and food security that targets the immediate needs of the poorest, while also strengthening the foundations of agricultural industries through improving agricultural productivity and opening markets. Market-oriented economic, trade and agricultural policies, good governance and infrastructure underpin private-sector investment and agricultural innovation.

Australia has a strong focus on women's empowerment, given the important role women play in agriculture and food security. Australia also recognizes the role agriculture plays in addressing the complex problem of improving nutrition and encourages nutrition-sensitive agricultural investments.

How we contribute

Australia supports a range of agricultural initiatives across its bilateral, regional and global programs. Australia also has highly valued technical and managerial capabilities in agricultural research which are being harnessed to improve agricultural productivity in developing countries. Through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Government funds research to improve the knowledge and understanding of the challenges our partner countries face. The research also provides an evidence base to evaluate the impact of our work and improve the quality of the Australian aid program. In addition, DFAT and ACIAR work closely with research institutions such as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and research organisations in developing countries to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and enhance rural livelihoods.

When required, Australia provides immediate humanitarian assistance delivered through agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

See further information on programs addressing Agricultural Development and Food Security Initiatives.

Australia’s development efforts are set out in Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response

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