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Australia’s development program

Climate resilient agricultural development and food security

2023-24 total Australian ODA [budget estimate]
$228.9 million
2022-23 total Australian ODA [actual]
$208.1 million
2021-22 total Australian ODA [actual]
$215.6 million

Rising global food insecurity is a result of several compounding factors, including protracted conflict, economic shocks such as the slow global recovery from COVID-19, and climate change.

Food prices, energy and fertiliser costs have eased since the record high levels of March 2022 (at the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine) but they remain historically high. Higher food prices disproportionately impact poor households and net food importing countries.

Rising global food insecurity will be a long-term challenge with climate change exerting increasing pressure on already stressed food systems. Agriculture, fisheries and the broader food system are on the front line of the climate challenge and the Indo-Pacific is one of the regions most exposed to climate change risks.

Many households in the Indo-Pacific depend upon agriculture for their livelihoods.  This makes investing in agriculture an effective way of addressing chronic food insecurity, and contributing to broader poverty alleviation and economic stability.

As the world's population grows, demand for food and agricultural products will continue to rise. Meeting future food demand in a sustainable way will require advances in climate resilient agricultural practices in addition to strengthening market systems and governance.

How we are helping

Our approach is built around listening, respect and genuine partnership with the aim of scaling-up climate resilient 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, sustainability and opening markets.

Australia recognises the role that climate resilient agriculture plays in addressing the complex problem of improving nutrition and encourages nutrition-sensitive agricultural investments. Our approach also focuses on improving gender equality and social inclusion. Australia has a strong focus on women's empowerment, given the important but often undervalued role women play in agricultural production and food security.

Australia is responding to growing global food insecurity by:

  • continuing to provide emergency food assistance via our partners
  • providing financial and technical assistance to countries in our region to help build their long-term food resilience
  • supporting the development of social protection systems that provide a safety net for those affected by the food price crisis, and
  • advocating for open, transparent, and predictable agricultural trade and for avoiding export restrictions on food and fertilisers

Emergency food assistance

We provide funding to the World Food Programme to deliver emergency food assistance to those most affected by the crisis. We also provide flexible core funding to other humanitarian partners (the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Refugee Agency - UNHCR, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Relief Works Agency) to respond to the highest needs globally, including nutrition and food assistance.

Financial and technical assistance

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 aid investments in climate resilient agriculture address long-term food insecurity challenges and resilience in our region in two ways:

  • support adaptation to reduce farmers' exposure to short-term climate risks, while also building resilience, so they can cope with longer-term stresses
  • target mitigation, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural production.

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.

Advocating for open, transparent and predicable agricultural trade

Australia promotes policy options – underpinned by the multilateral, rules-based trading system, and science and risk-based decision making – that keep markets open, do not distort trade and do not undermine the food security of others.

We advocate for open, transparent, and predictable agricultural trade in food and fertilisers, and urge countries to avoid the imposition of distortionary trade policies such as export restrictions.

See further information on agricultural programs see Climate resilient agricultural development initiatives.

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