Why Agricultural Research for Development?

Agriculture and food security are front and centre of world attention as we face the complex challenges of climate change, conflicts and COVID-19.

These challenges exacerbate food insecurity and undernourishment and impact most heavily on the 900 million people already living in poverty. Many of these are smallholder farmers who are the focus of many Crawford Fund initiatives in neighbouring countries. 

We believe it is through international agricultural research for development (Ag4Dev) that we are best able to benefit them. 

Since the majority of people in less developed countries live in rural areas and are dependent on the land for employment, support for international agricultural research is one of the most effective ways that Australia can assist, and it is something that Australia is very good at.

By supporting and engaging in agricultural research for development, Australia is “Doing Well by Doing Good” because there are significant benefits to Australia as well as to partner countries – their farmers, their environment, and their economies.

Through much of 2023, the Fund held a series of events, briefings and other activities to explain “Doing Well by Doing Good” and to argue that:

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 it receives is only around 2.5 per cent. We firmly believe it is in Australia’s interests to increase the proportion of its development-assistance budget invested in Ag4Dev.

The Fund has brought a spotlight on the benefits from international agricultural R&D since the launch of the book titled “Doing Well by Doing Good”, written by the Fund’s foundation director, Emeritus Prof Derek Tribe AO OBE, back in 1991. 
The Fund has produced two commissioned reports as part of our ongoing “Doing Well by Doing Good” campaign on Australia’s aid investment in agricultural research for development.

They demonstrate that this Australian funded research continues to be an outstanding success. It:

  • has been very successful in alleviating poverty and contributing to other UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • contributes to the food and nutrition security of low-income countries, their environmental and economic sustainability and resilience, and to gender equity and regional stability
  • pays its way with a safe ballpark estimate of the benefit-cost ratio of 10:1 for a well-managed portfolio of research projects, and
  • brings significant returns to Australia’s farmers, biosecurity, scientific knowledge and our global diplomatic reputation. 

Australia’s investment in international Ag4Dev is mostly through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), for projects that aim to revitalise sustainable agriculture in low-income countries—mainly in the Indo-Pacific region. The Crawford Fund engages Australians to build capacity around food and nutrition security, often connected with ACIAR projects.

Please join us in our efforts to bring greater support for agricultural research for development, for the benefit of developing countries and Australia.

  • We encourage you to check out the #WhyAg4Dev resources and watch the Testimonial Videos.
  • Join us in our efforts to bring attention to the benefits of international Ag4Dev by using our social media toolkit.