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Farmers as Co-researchers


Sharing the process and results, as well as the responsibility for research is known as democratising research. This has been the focus of our work conducted in Papua New Guinea and Pakistan for more than a decade. In much of our work, we employ a co-inquiry approach which considers all participants, including large and smallholder farmers, government departments, university members, and local communities as ‘co-researchers’. It involves working with participants throughout the entire research process and facilitating equal input with regard to the research focus, design, methodologies and results.

This approach has proven to be successful. For instance, in two ACIAR funded projects in Pakistan, smallholder women and men farmers were introduced to the notion of engaging in the research process, not as subjects but as co-researchers with multidisciplinary teams of biophysical and social scientists, the results of which have been overwhelmingly positive.

Current Projects

Adapting to salinity in the southern Indus Basin

The southern Indus Basin is experiencing sea water intrusion and poor irrigation practices causing the soil to salinised thus the project will co-develop and investigate adaptation adoptions with people living in the affected areas.

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Groundwater management in Pakistan (proposed project)

Groundwater is critically important for Pakistan, accounting for around one-third of total water withdrawal, but use is largely unregulated. Management of the resource has only recently become a priority for government thus working with Pakistan government agencies at national to community level to help them build knowledge, capacity and institutions to support sustainable groundwater management is the main focus of the project.

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Completed Projects

In Pakistan men and women small holder farmers believed more water the better the production of crops, to dispel this myth the project engaged with farmers as co-researchers to improve water and irrigation management and enhance their livelihoods and in both PNG and Pakistan community engagement in securing value chains based on sound use of local resources was key.


John Allwright Fellowships

Funded by ACIAR, the John Allwright Fellowship (JAF) provides agricultural researchers from partner countries currently or recently involved in ACIAR research projects with the opportunity to obtain postgraduate qualifications at Australian tertiary institutions. The primary aim of the scheme is to enhance research capacity in ACIAR’s partner country institutions

ACIAR Agribusiness Scholarship Program

The ACIAR Agribusiness Scholarship Program aims to identify and attract talented Master’s students or recent graduates from Australian university business schools and MBA programs who could develop and apply their experience, skills and knowledge to agribusiness research in an international development context. Two internships for Australian-based Master’s students were awarded during the Developing approaches to enhance farmer water management skills in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan.

For further information on the Farmers as Co-researchers program of research, please contact Dr Sandra Heaney-Mustafa.