Capacity building | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Capacity building

Pacific Island Handicrafts
Tree planing workshop in the field
Nittya Simard

ACPIR’s work in developing sustainable livelihoods involves collaborating with Pacific partners in capacity building initiatives to empower the region’s producers, researchers and policy makers to help themselves and achieve stronger economic independence.

Recent projects

Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative Phase 2 (PARDI 2)

2017 - 2022

The Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative Phase 2 (PARDI 2) builds on the achievements of PARDI 1. The overall aim of PARDI 2 is to identify and understand how agribusiness development opportunities can contribute to improved economic growth and livelihoods in the Pacific. PARDI 2 works to increase the knowledge of why and how certain Pacific agribusinesses have succeeded, document their positive impacts on community livelihoods and investigate how best to extend and make their economic benefits more inclusive and sustainable.

The project has identified agritourism, honey production, and tilapia fish as three promising industries in Fiji and Vanuatu to focus on supporting and developing. The project team works in partnership with businesses, industry associations and government agencies through mentoring, capacity building, and training support in developing agribusinesses and farmer organisations and informing policy.

Project team: Prof Steven Underhill (project leader), Dr Inez Mahony, Prof Paul Southgate, Dr Cooper Schouten (SCU), Ms Marita Manley, Dr Cherise Addinsall (SCU), Ms Salote Waqairatu, Ms Patricia Bibi, Dr Monal Lal, Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON), and Mr Theo Simos.

Funding: ACIAR - A$2,600,000


Daily Post – Vanuatu 2021. What is Agritourism: Produktif Turism Blong Yumi? May 8.

ACIAR 2021. Sweet success in farm tourism and beekeeping, Partners Magazine, iss 4, pp. 3-5.

ACIAR 2021. Local champion inspires budding aquaculture farmers. 19 August.

Improving technical and institutional capacity to support development of mariculture based livelihoods and industry in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea


This project provides a sustainable basis for the development of a marine aquaculture or mariculture sector in PNG, focusing on high-priority commodities with mariculture potential, such as sea cucumbers (sandfish) and marine ornamental species, such as clownfishes, corals and giant clams. Research will build capacity, support sector development, improve local livelihoods and local awareness of mariculture potential, with potential to increase export earnings. Research also contributes to improving long-term government, non-government and local-community mariculture capacity. Areas of research cover: development of sea cucumber culture techniques appropriate for community uptake in PNG; building sustainability into the existing aquarium trade; and determining whether profitable rock oyster culture can be developed in PNG.

Project team: Prof Paul Southgate (Project Leader), Dr Thane Militz, Dr Simon Foale, Dr Cathy Hair, National Fisheries Authority, PNG, Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Funding: ACIAR $1,741,605

Developing pearl industry based livelihoods in the western Pacific


This project aims to maximise engagement of remote coastal communities in capacity building activities that generate livelihood-supporting and income-generating opportunities for individuals, families and community groups in Fiji, Tonga and PNG. Education and training activities cover technical aspects such as how to collect juvenile oysters (‘spat’) for sale to pearl farms or for local utilisation, mabè pearl production, and using mabé pearls and pearl shell to produce retail-quality jewellery and handicrafts, as well as improved business skilling, enterprise development and sustainable sector development. This work is enabling Pacific communities to develop and grow all facets of their business; and provides coastal villages with important socio-economic advantages, with particular benefit to women and youth.

Project Team: Prof Paul Southgate (Project Leader), Dr Pranesh Kishore, Dr Thane Militz, Ms De'arne Kershler, Ms Nittya Simard, Mr Theo Simos, Mr Bill Johnston, Ministry of Fisheries and Forests - Fiji, Ministry of Fisheries -Tonga, National Fisheries Authority – PNG, Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Funding: ACIAR - $2,264,620.

Workshop In Shed
Improving regional institutions' capacity on postharvest management


Commercial postharvest handling of vegetable crops in the Pacific Islands substantially results in wastage and reduction in marketable product available to commercial supply chains. This is primarily due to poor on farm practices that often lead to spoilage and microbiological contamination, posing food safety risks. Government institutions dealing with postharvest management lack capacity in technical skills and major resources to improve the development of evidence-based food security policy and reduce food and nutritional insecurity in the Pacific Region.

This project worked to improve the capacity of relevant institutions through training workshops in Tonga and the Solomon Islands on safe handling practices and the development of training materials compiled into a regional postharvest management manual. Participatory research was conducted with value chain actors in the horticultural chain to identify areas and opportunities for improvement. This method not only provided for accurate analysis to inform the development of postharvest management resources but was an effective mechanism for communicating the research results to participants.

Project leader: Prof Steven Underhill

Funding: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) A$47,384