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Agriculture and food security

Agriculture and food security initiatives

The Australian Government invests in agriculture and food security through a mix of global, regional and bilateral initiatives. This work is guided by the Government's new Strategy for Australia's aid investments in agriculture fisheries and water, released in February 2015, which identifies three priority areas of engagement:

  1. Strengthening markets: To help increase small-scale farmers and fishers participation in markets and address constraints to agri-food business, including by leveraging private sector investment and innovation (with an emphasis on women's economic empowerment).
  2. Innovating for productivity and sustainable resource use: to improve productivity along food and agriculture value chains and promote more efficient and sustainable use of natural resources, using international and Australian research and expertise.
  3. Promoting effective policy, governance and reform: to assist partner countries achieve more effective policy settings to promote sustainable and inclusive growth and open trade and improve the enabling environment for business, investment and innovation.

The department initiated several new agricultural development investments in 2015 to give practical effect to this Strategy. In April 2015, the Government announced support for the World Economic Forum's new Grow Asia partnership, which aims to catalyse sustainable agribusiness opportunities in Southeast Asia. DFAT funds the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to build the evidence base and intensify engagement with ASEAN members on agriculture and food security policy. In addition, we have expanded Australia's involvement in the G20-initiated Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), with new funding to help stimulate further private sector investment in agricultural development in the Indo-Pacific region.

Other investments are working closely with the private sector, as well as research and non-government organisations, to help small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs–particularly women – to improve productivity, access markets and tackle constraints to business. Key examples include: the Market Development Facility, the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Rural Economic Development (AIPD - Rural); the Cambodia Agriculture Value Chain Program (CAVAC), To'os Ba Moris Diak (TOMAK) and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA).

Australia also has notable 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.

Other elements of Australia's aid program–such as providing financial services for the poor and supporting the development of rural infrastructure–also help increase rural people's incomes, assets, access to markets and resilience to shocks.


$20.5 million, 2013-2023

In 2013 a group of G20 countries including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in partnership with the BMGF, created AgResults, a $122 million multilateral initiative incentivizing private sector action and investment through payment for results awards that promote the uptake of innovative technologies by smallholder farmers at scale. These 'payment for results' awards and prizes, also known as 'pull mechanisms' are awarded to competing businesses based on the verified achievement of pre-defined results and are intended to overcome existing markets failures that impede the development of sustainable commercial markets for such technologies.

AgResults also seeks to test the efficacy and cost effectiveness of pull mechanisms relative to other approaches in the delivery of outcomes in improved food security, increased smallholder incomes and improved health and nutrition. To do this AgResults is implementing and independently evaluating six `pilots' focused on (a) cultivation of higher yielding, more profitable and more nutritious crop varieties, (b) development of affordable and effective pest-proof, on-farm grain storage, (c) reduced GHG emissions and increased rice yields through improved farm management; or, (d) development of vaccines for livestock diseases affecting poor smallholder farmers. Unlike traditional grant `push' financing, pull mechanisms only reward achievement of predefined outcomes without specifying how those results are achieved. `Pulls' aim to motivate multiple businesses to invest in the target market in different ways to achieve an outcome before significant donor funds are spent. The initiative is implementing projects in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia and is also running a global US$25 million prize seeking to incentivize the development of an effective vaccine to control the debilitating livestock disease Brucellosis melitensis.

Related links

Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

$110.1 million, 2010-2024

Australia is a strong supporter of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a multilateral mechanism that emerged out of the G8 and G20 processes to boost investment in agriculture and food security. GAFSP has allocated close to US1.5 billion since 2010 through two separate funding channels – a Public Sector Window (PuSW) and a Private Sector Window (PrSW). The PuSW provides grants to low-income countries to assist them to implement national strategies to raise agricultural productivity, link farmers to markets, improve non-farm rural livelihoods, and reduce risk and vulnerability. The PrSW provides concessional finance to agribusinesses, rural banks and other private sector actors to stimulate additional agribusiness and rural finance activity in low-income countries. Australia has contributed $100 million to the PuSW to date and $10.1 million to the PrSW aimed at facilitating private sector operations in the Indo-Pacific region. In response to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, Australia is working to reform the model so that grant and concessional loans complement each other more effectively at country level to make a strong impact on SDG2 (ending hunger and malnutrition while doubling smallholder incomes and productivity).

Related links

Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

The Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain Program

$92 million, 2015-2020 (Phase 2)

The Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain program (CAVAC) is reducing rural poverty by improving the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers in Cambodia's rice-based farming systems. CAVAC is constructing and rehabilitating irrigation schemes and providing farmers with access to agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and training in modern farming techniques.

CAVAC Phase 2 will continue its market-based approach to strengthen market systems, promote greater investment and add value in agricultural crop value chains.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
CAVAC fact sheet [PDF 204 KB] 2014 Fact sheet

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Market Development Facility Phase 2

$76.8 million, 2017-2022

The Market Development Facility (MDF) stimulates investment, business innovation and regulatory reform in order to create additional jobs and increase the income of poor women and men in rural and urban areas in the Indo-Pacific region. To achieve this, MDF negotiates partnerships with strategically positioned private and public sector organisations in its countries of operations (Fiji, Timor-Leste, Pakistan, PNG and Sri Lanka). Each partnership is comprised of a tailor-made package of activities that enables the partner to innovate, invest or undertake reforms such that small farms and firms benefit from better access to production inputs, services and end markets. This increases productivity and growth, and in turn, creates jobs and raises income for poor women and men. Each partnership promotes business innovations or reforms, leverages private sector investment or public sector ownership, has a demonstrated link with pro-poor growth, job creation and income generation, and contributes to systemic changes in the economy of the country in which it is active.

MDF utilises the Making Markets Work for the Poor or Market Systems Development (MSD) Approach. Market systems development programs explicitly embrace economic growth that is accessible by the poor aiming to make market systems more competitive and inclusive. The MSD approach analyses the economy for its potential for inclusive growth and to partner with actors in the economy to influence their behaviour (market outlook, product, business model, ability to invest and innovate) in a manner that is commercially sustainable and generates inclusive pro-poor outcomes.

Phase 2 of MDF is building on Phase 1 which began in 2011.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Market Systems Development Synthesis Review and management response 2019 Synthesis review and management response

Related links

Market Development Facility

Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA)

Up to $40.3 million, 2009-2018

Australia established and is supporting the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA) from 2009 to 2018. New Zealand co-funds market access activities in the region. PHAMA is designed to provide practical and targeted assistance to help Pacific island countries manage regulatory aspects associated with exporting primary products (including fresh and processed plant and animal products). This includes gaining access for their products (such as sawn timber and fresh vegetables) into new markets, and helping to manage issues associated with maintaining and improving existing trade. Australia and New Zealand are markets of major interest, along with export markets beyond the Pacific. The core countries assisted through PHAMA include Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

A new phase of PHAMA has been designed - PHAMA Plus. Initial details of the new program are available under the second link below. DFAT is planning to approach the market for implementation under a one-step procurement in May 2018.

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Australia Indonesia Partnership for Rural Economic Development Program (AIP-Rural)

$112 million, 2013-2018

Through AIP-Rural we aim to increase inclusive economic growth in five provinces in eastern Indonesia, by influencing how agricultural markets work for the poor. We have designed the program to help reduce the number of Indonesians living in poverty, address constraints to rural income growth and improve agricultural productivity. We do this by facilitating private sector-led investment in better agricultural practices, while also supporting aid for trade and women's economic empowerment. Private sector partners have worked on more than 50 activities with the program since 2013, and we aim to increase the incomes of 300,000 smallholder farm households by 30 per cent by 2018.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Promoting Rural Incomes through Strengthening Markets in Agriculture (PRISMA) Summary Design 2013 Design summary
Tertiary Irrigation Technical Assistance (TIRTA) Design 2014 Design
Applied Research and Innovation Systems in Agriculture Design Document 2014 Design
Strengthening Agricultural Finance in Rural Areas Design Document 2015 Design
Mid Term Review and Management Response 2016 Independent evaluation and management response

Related links

Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Rural Economic Development

Grow Asia Partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF)

$8 million, 2014-2019

Australia has invested $8 million in a 'Grow Asia' partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to strengthen sustainable and inclusive agricultural development and food security in the ASEAN region. Grow Asia is a multi-stakeholder partnership platform that brings together South East Asia's smallholders, governments, companies, NGOs and other stakeholders to develop inclusive and sustainable value chains that benefit farmers. Grow Asia has so far collaborated with more than 300 partners across its five country partnerships reaching more than half a million smallholder farmers including by improving value chains and linking farmers with markets. Grow Asia also assists the ASEAN Secretariat in their efforts to develop supportive agricultural policies and an enabling environment for private sector development.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Grow Asia Mid-Term Review and management response 2018 Independent evaluation and management response

Related links

Grow Asia

TOMAK (To'os ba Moris Diak) – Farming for Prosperity

Up to $25 million, 2016-2021

Australia's TOMAK program will reduce malnutrition and improve commercial farming opportunities for rural households. TOMAK partners with farmers – and particularly women in farming families – to improve productivity, and to increase the amount and variety of nutritious foods for sale. TOMAK also helps communities understand the importance of good nutrition. TOMAK's work will lead to improved health, and more resilient households who can earn an income from the food they grow. The program is implemented by Adam Smith International together with a number of government, non-government and private sector organisations.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
TOMAK Investment Concept 2014 Concept note
TOMAK Investment Design 2015 Design document
TOMAK Monitoring and Review Group Report #1 2016 Independent monitoring report
TOMAK First Annual Progress Report 2017 Progress report

Related links


$4.5 million, 2014 – 2019

Working in partnership with Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), the Government is improving productivity along food and agriculture supply chains and building demand from consumers for ethically-sourced products. Australia's four-year $4.5 million partnership with Fairtrade ANZ is building demand in the Australian domestic retail market for ethical and sustainable products, and building the capacity of smallholder producers in the region to supply products.

Related links

Fairtrade Australian and New Zealand


* The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is committed to high standards of transparency and accountability in the management of the Australian aid program through publishing information on our website, including policies, plans, results, evaluations and research. Our practice is to publish documents after the partner government and any other partners directly involved in the delivery of the initiative have been consulted. Not all material published on this site is created by the Australian aid program and therefore not all documents reflect our views. In limited circumstances some information may be withheld for reasons including privacy and commercial sensitivity.

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