December 1, 2022
A recent review commissioned by the Crawford Fund has found that investing in international agricultural research not only delivers obvious benefits to Australia’s partner countries, it contributes to influence, “soft power” and an enhanced international reputation for Australia as a serious and significant contributor to the international community, through willingly and freely sharing Australian intellectual property in agriculture.
The review considered the associated social, environmental, and diplomatic outcomes of international agricultural research for development (Ag4Dev) initiatives and related investments in capacity building. The resulting report, “The Benefits to Australia and to the Global Community from Investing in International Agricultural Research and Development” was produced by Alluvium International with Dr. Neil Byron, Dr. Jan Edwards, Mette Kirk, and Steve Charlton-Henderson.
The report was commissioned to extend the consideration of benefits beyond the economic returns that were studied in a sister report.
Despite the proof positive from benefit-cost analyses finding a ratio of 10:1 on investment, and the less quantifiable social, environmental, and diplomatic benefits in-country and to Australia of investing in international agricultural research for development (Ag4Dev), the proportion of Australia’s development-assistance budget receives is only around 2.5 percent. We firmly believe it is in Australia’s interests to increase the proportion of its development-assistance budget invested in Ag4Dev.
The purpose of the review was to:
According to the authors, The Crawford Fund is already doing well, with very little, significantly enhancing:
This report noted numerous benefits to Australia from Ag4Dev in addition to the widely recognised benefits to partner countries. These include:
According to the report, an overarching finding from this review is the critical importance of mentoring to achieve sustainable and longer-term outcomes. This was highlighted by all interviewees as a core strength of the Crawford Fund, both in terms of the program delivery as well as in terms of the extensive resources and expertise available to the Fund through its wide network and alumni. Without exception, the interviewees expressed deep gratitude for the quality guidance and continued support offered by Crawford Fund mentors – where this support has lasted for many years for some participants.
The authors also noted several participants commented that the value of these networks and relationships lies in the diversity of people represented across different countries, professions, organisations, gender, age, and socio-economic backgrounds. The Crawford Fund programs literally break down barriers, and silos, and connect people across diverse backgrounds and perspectives. In a very practical sense, this allows for ‘cross pollination’ of knowledge and ideas on how to improve agricultural production and contribute to development goals.