Photo: Steve Crimp
How we can build resilience into food systems in the Indo Pacific region?
The world is facing an increasingly disrupted food future due to significant global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Asia-Pacific, governments struggle to alleviate hunger for hundreds of millions in the region, as recent shocks such as emerging pests and disease have exacerbated disruptions to the region’s food systems.
In the wake of this emerging crisis, The Australian National University (ANU), The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) have launched the Resilience Initiative for Food and Agriculture (RIFA). The initiative brings together interdisciplinary agri-food expertise from Australia and the Asia-Pacific to deliver science-backed and development-ready solutions shaped by local contexts.
ANU Expertise working on RIFA
RIFA aims to catalyse research and development collaboration between research, industry and government agencies interested in creating pathways towards more resilient agri-food systems.
ANU boasts a network of leading researchers whose expertise can contribute to the partnership across a range of disciplines, including law, health, rural development and environment, ecosystems, water reform and more. Current ANU researchers working on the RIFA project are:
Dr Steven Crimp is a climate applications scientist with the Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions at the Australian National University. His role is to examine opportunities for improved climate risk management, within primary industries, both in Australia and internationally as well as seek opportunities to work more closely with multi-national and global food producers, telecommunications, and other industries in this area. Before joining ANU, Steve worked for the Agriculture and Food Business Unit of CSIRO, contributing to the Global Food Security in a Changing world research program.
Dr Rachel Friedman is a multidisciplinary researcher who uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to better understand how land management decision-making processes, strategies, and policies can contribute to achieving social-ecological benefits. Often focusing on regional case studies, Rachel’s previous research has examined the social equity, human well-being, and forest conservation implications of community-based forest management in Indonesian Borneo, and climate change vulnerability and gender in Ghanaian cocoa farming communities. She has also spent time in research and communications for NGOs and multilateral organisations on topics of climate-smart agriculture, payments for ecosystems services, and international climate and environmental policy processes. As part of the Resilience Initiative for Food and Agriculture, Rachel is supporting projects on climate change information, adaptation, and community engagement for smallholder farmers in the Pacific Islands.
RIFA Research project 1: Scoping study
A first step for RIFA was to conduct a scoping study which looked specifically at development projects and research studies that dealt with resilience in some aspect of the food system.
Completed in 2021, the synthesis identified the current focal areas of food systems resilience research across the Indo-Pacific region, but more importantly highlighted critical gaps where new research and action are required to establish or improve resilience.
ANU Contributions to the study:
ANU researchers led the systematic review of published literature and identified a preliminary set of research gaps. With our partners CSIRO and Sustineo, we refined these gaps through stakeholder interviews with participants from government, NGOs, research institutions and multilateral agencies in the Asia-Pacific region, to elicit their perspectives on critical research needs.
RIFA Research project 2: Rapid Response and Situational Analysis Dashboard
A second research project initiated by RIFA in 2021 was the Rapid Response and Situational Analysis Dashboard.
In order to understand how food stress events may unfold we need to be able to track a range of precursors. This project allows us to consider a range of possible food stress precursors and track them in near-real time by developing a data ingestion and analysis package.
Data from the project will allow governments to target resources to ensure recovery from stress events. Ongoing real-time collection of information from a range of sources will also allow the effectiveness of interventions to be measured.
Dr. Steve Crimp, from ANU, is a member of the supervisory panel providing oversight for this tranche of work, which is led by CSIRO.
RIFA Research project 3
A third research project is currently under development with more information to come soon.
Mikayla's story - Calculating the Carbon Cost of Coffee
Photos: Mikayla Hyland-Wood
You’re probably familiar with the cost of your morning cup of coffee. That caffeine hit might set you back four or five dollars. But have you ever considered the carbon cost of growing those coffee beans?
Mikayla Hyland-Wood is undertaking her honours research project with the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, focusing on understanding and measuring the carbon cost of growing coffee in Papua New Guinea.
For local farmers in PNG, Mikayla’s research has some very tangible outcomes. By contributing to expanding livelihood options for farmers, the research outcomes are helping to build resilience in agricultural systems, providing a broader range economic opportunities for farmers, and thereby increasing their ability to pay for vital adaptation options.
Outputs from the project
Partner with us
Partners are involved in research, development, implementation, capacity building, teaching, knowledge sharing, and investment aimed at supporting impact in the Asia-Pacific.
The RIFA project is always looking to engage with researchers, government departments, as well as national and international organisations who are interested in contributing to the goals of the project. If you are interested in learning more about potential opportunities, please contact ANU RIFA Coordinator, Dr Steven Crimp: firstname.lastname@example.org