Food systems

Supporting healthy, resilient, and equitable food systems in Timor-Leste and the Pacific Region

This project will extend place-based, multi-scale responses to food system challenges developed through ACIAR Food Systems project by harnessing data insights to inform national policy and track progress towards better public health, improving food system governance and developing a better understanding of the way people acquire their food.

Piles of vegetables at vegetable market, Dipolog City, Philippines.
Taro Plantation, close up of the leaves
Women barter fish for root crops, Takwa market, North Malaita, Solomon Islands
Two boats on the sea in Timor-Leste use fishing nets

Project vision

Data & training to address vulnerability to food & nutrition insecurity

Tom Brewer

National staff trained in how to use data on food production and trade to help manage their influence on local food production, availability, consumption & health outcomes.

Countries use the data to inform policy-making relevant to food system challenges & to track their progress towards relevant SDGs.

Coherent food system policy

Anne-Marie Thow & Senoveva Mauli

A coordinated and coherent approach to food system governance that helps improve policy implementation to address food system challenges such as food and nutrition security, public and environmental health.

Understanding the characteristics of different food environments

Jessica Bogard

Understand how important different food environments are in diverse local contexts and how healthy food environments can be actively strengthened.

Develop a better understanding of the characteristics of different food environments both formal and informal.

Our People



Previous work

The Pacific food system is failing to provide the people of the region with nutritious food. Per capita agricultural and coastal fisheries production are declining, and imports of nutritionally unrewarding food are increasing. External drivers including urbanization, migration and globalized food trade, combined with these trends, are exerting a significant influence on the nutrition transition in the region. Pacific Island Countries are presently greatly affected by the triple burden of malnutrition – the coexistence of undernutrition, nutrient deficiencies, and obesity. The rise of non-communicable diseases as a result (e.g. Type 2 Diabetes and obesity) has major implications for economic growth, development and aid policy, and contributes to the personal tragedies of foreshortened lives.

The Food Systems project is about characterizing Pacific agri-food systems, recommending action to improve local food environments, and supporting national policies that promote healthier, more diverse diets for people in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

The project activities will translate to outcomes through two major pathways:

  1. An empirical foundation will be set for national policy interventions using national and regional analyses of production, consumption and trade of agricultural commodities and food. The Pacific Communities (SPC), national line agencies, and National Statistics Offices will be included in this work to facilitate access to regional forums and leaders, and also provide an effective partnership to influence policy across a range of sectors.
  2. Field-based activities will be used to directly understand and influence local food environments in Malaita and Western Provinces in Solomon Islands. Because local informal markets are the backbone or rural economies and food networks, we will analyse the roles of women and men in the dynamics of bringing food to market and buying and selling produce and more processed foods on offer in those markets.

This research is about creating long-term benefits for the Pacific region through improved policy and investments in agri-food systems. Food environment and value chain research will identify gendered pathways to improved nutrition, and new pathways to more diverse diets by seeking to influence the availability and acquisition of healthier foods.

This project brings together communities, provincial and national line agencies, UOW, SPC, Worldfish, CSIRO and the Charles Perkins Centre at University of Sydney.