Professor Wendy Umberger

Chief Executive Officer, ACIAR

Professor Wendy Umberger is the new CEO of ACIAR. Previously, she was the President of Australia’s Policy Advisory Council (for International Agricultural Research and Development) and an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Agriculture and Food at the University of Melbourne.  She is an expert in agricultural economics and development and food policy.  She has worked on food system issues across the Indo-Pacific region and led interdisciplinary value chain research projects in Asia, Australia, North America, the Pacific Islands and South Africa.  Her research has explored opportunities for agricultural smallholder households in producing high value (horticulture, dairy, beef) food products and adopting new technology to gain access to modern food value chains.

From 2013 to 2022 she was the Foundation Executive Director at the Centre for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide and a Professor in the School of Economics and Public Policy.  She served on the Board of Trustees of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) from 2015 to 2021.  She is also an Independent Director of Grain Producers South Australia (GPSA), a Director of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, a board member of Food Bank SA, an Honorary Fellow of Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.  Wendy has a B.S. in Animal Science (1996) and M.S. in Economics (1998) from South Dakota State University and PhD in Agricultural Economics (2001) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.



On-Farm Risks for Resilient Food and Nutrition Systems

Our demands on the world’s food producers continue to grow as we look to the global food system to efficiently provide growing populations with safe, nutritious and higher quality food, while also using fewer inputs and preserving vulnerable ecosystems. At the same time, rapid economic transition in many countries, increased integration of global markets and new technologies provide many opportunities for the farming sector. Smallholder farmers, who feed a significant portion of the global population, remain amongst the world’s poorest people, and they are one of the groups most vulnerable to impacts of climate change such as more extreme weather events, less predictable weather patterns, threatened water security, emerging pest and disease threats and soil and land degradation. They face complex livelihood decisions which will see many leave the sector for opportunities in urban areas, leaving increasing labour shortages in rural areas. This presentation explores options for innovation by smallholders to address these on-farm risks and the technologies, policies, and economic and social enablers needed to facilitate more resilient food and nutrition systems.