recapping 2018 – Part one

2018 is soon drawing to a close. In today’s blog, we look back at our research activities both those of staff and students, contributions to development of policy GFAR researchers have made, as shared through our blogs this year from January to June.

In January, we wrote about the water crisis in Cape Town where April 21, 2018 was the ‘Day Zero’ when the city would run out of all water resources at its disposal and the 4 million residents would have to line up at one of the 200 distribution centres to collect their allocated 25 litres/day. Fortunately, the ‘Day Zero’ has been pushed back to 2019 as rainfall has helped fills dams around the city, however the water crisis in Cape Town is far from over.

GFAR team at 2018 Annual AARES Conference

February was busy for us at GFAR as Adelaide hosted the 2018 Annual Australasian Agriculture and Resource Economics Society (AARES) conference from 6th to 9th February at the Adelaide Convention Centre. This year, the conference theme was: Abundance in an Era of Scarcity? Challenges and Opportunities for Australasian Agriculture, Environment, Food, Resources and Agribusiness. More than 300 conference delegates from around Australia and the world attended the conference! A number of GFAR PhD students and researchers presented papers at the conference. The 2019 annual AARES Conference will be held in Melbourne from 12th to 15th February 2019 at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

Cassie Hough, ABC Rural interviewing Dr Tran Minh Tien, Deputy Director of the Soil and Fertiliser Research Institute in Hanoi, Vietnam, in a field in Bac Ha District, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam.

In the month of March, for a story on International Women’s Day Cassie Hough of ABC Rural travelled to Vietnam with GFAR researcher and PhD student Nikki Dumbrell to capture stories and experiences of project researchers and farmers from the project titled “Towards more profitable and sustainable vegetable systems in North Vietnam”.

A farmer with his Happy Seeder machine in Punjab, India

The month of March also saw a GFAR research team comprising of Dr. Adam Loch, Dr. Jay Cummins and Rohan Yargop visiting India and Bangladesh to conduct a value chain analysis study and to initiate data collection from farm households to identify what constraints farmers are facing in adoption of zero tillage technologies; especially the Happy Seeder. The project wrapped up later in September 2018, the final report can be accessed here.

Workshop participants from University of Indonesia, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), University of New England, and FOERDIA

In March, GFAR initiated a new research project (2018-2021) titled ‘Agricultural Policy Research to Support Natural Resource Management in Indonesia’s Upland Landscapes’, also known as “IndoGreen”. IndoGreen is funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and implemented in collaboration with national partners in Indonesia, the Indonesian Center for Agricultural Socio-Economic and Policy Studies (ICASEPS) of the Ministry of Agriculture, The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), and the World Wildlife Fund. The project aims to provide evidence-based recommendations on policy, for promoting environmentally sound farming practices in Indonesia’s upland area.

April kicked off with a great achievement of one of our alumna from Indonesia, Sahara Djaenudin who was appointed as Head of School of Economics of Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) in Bogor, Indonesia. IPB is one of our key partners for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funded “IndoDairy”  project.

In April, for a project focusing on developing value chain innovation platforms to improve food security in East and Southern Africa, funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), we collaborated with Monastery Coffee to link coffee growers in Uganda to the high-end markets in countries like Australia. Monastery Coffee is a small batch, specialty coffee roaster based in Adelaide. GFAR researchers Prof. Randy Stringer and Dr. Daniel Gregg invited Adam Marley of Monastery Coffee to visit Uganda to interact with the coffee growers and evaluate potential opportunities for sourcing the coffee for their customers in Australia. The result of this collaboration has been the introduction of a specialty grade coffee in the Australian market through Monastery Coffee. This has helped smallholder coffee producers get access to high value markets. Dr. Prossy Isubikalu of Makerere University, a key project partner in Uganda, recently visited GFAR as a John Dillon Fellow of ACIAR and updated on current progress of this project.

GFAR Master’s graduates with Prof. Wendy Umberger and Dr. Alexandra Peralta

Graduations are always a special time for us at GFAR. In May we celebrated the achievements of 13 such graduates, 11 from our flagship Master of Global Food and Agricultural Business (MGFAB) program and 2 from our PhD program.

Craig Johns and Theo Simos at the Galip Nut launch event

It is not every day you get to launch a new food product, particularly when it is the culmination of years of research and strong multidisciplinary collaboration across two countries. Well, this is what happened in Papua New Guinea in May. The Galip Nut is an indigenous nut, which has strong traditional connections to the country, and has been used as a shade tree within agroforestry systems for cocoa production. While the nut has been traded between villages and through municipal markets for many decades, this was the first time the nut was commercially processed for a modern retail market. Theo Simos from GFAR has been instrumental in getting this product to market. The commercialisation of this indigenous nut has been the result of an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)  funded project titled ‘Enhancing value added products and environmental benefits from agroforestry systems in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. The three new Galip products; Natural, Roasted and Peeled have since been on sale in leading East New Britain supermarkets and hotels with a further launch and expanded distribution planned for more markets and export later in the year.

Nikki Dumbrell (left) and Wendy Umberger (right) with Taste of Australia ambassador Luke Nguyen.

In June, we reported on GFAR researchers Prof. Wendy Umberger and Nikki Dumbrell ’s trip to Vietnam where they attended a project review workshop for the project “Towards more profitable and sustainable vegetable farming systems in north-western Vietnam”. The impact of this project was recently captured in a film which can be found here.

In June, Prof. Sarah WheelerDr. David Adamson and Dr. Adam Loch were invited to have a meeting with the Senior Council of the Murray-Darling Royal Commission.  During that meeting they were subsequently asked to have an interview with the Commissioner Bret Walker and provide formal evidence for the Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan at the Adelaide Town Hall. Their evidence covered data and findings from several joint-authored papers that relate to the Commission’s matters, and opinion on third-party assessments of Basin Plan impacts.

We will continue to look back at 2018, in our next week’s blog post.


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