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Nexus in South Asia // ACIAR Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP)

The Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) is a project that aims to improve the management of water, energy and food resources in three major Himalayan river basins - the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra - with a particular focus on benefits for women and girls.

The project, implemented by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR), is now in its second phase (SDIP2). This Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade project seeks to build and share knowledge, facilitate cooperation, and help improve the effectiveness of integrated policies and programs across the region, with an investment of $42 million between 2016 and 2020.

Project Phases 


ACIAR’s program focus for SDIP2 is to increase food, energy and water security for sustainable food systems in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Using a long-term, gender-inclusive and highly collaborative approach, ACIAR will utilise Sustainable Intensification strategies to increase food security while reducing environmental impacts.

The program will be based on ACIAR’s long term experience in the region, capitalising on an extensive partnerships network that is closely aligned with partner country and regional priorities. They will also draw upon and extend their existing program of field level research, local policy engagement and strong partnerships in the region.

With ACIAR's experience and expertise, the program will: help partners bring together the ‘big picture’ related to sustainable food systems; create space for regional engagement; utilise a multi-level approach, which draw on insights from field-level research that is informed by and informs policy decisions; showcase relevant institutional models

In the field, the program will focus on testing and ensuring access to water and energy efficient, sustainable intensification technologies including: crop system diversification and optimisation; zero and minimum till approaches (including use of the Happy Seeder direct drill and the Versatile Multi Planter); options for mechanisation; improved water management; access to markets; gender gaps in technology adoption.

ACIAR's work will explore the drivers and constraints that affect development in the wider South Asia region - including the growing challenges of climate change, and the need to promote gender equality by empowering women and girls.


The first phase of the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP1) focused on farm and community levels. The research and development activities under the project were conducted in eight districts in the Eastern Gangetic Plains (EGP): Rajshahi and Rangpur in Bangladesh; Malda and Coochbehar in West Bengal, and Purnea and Madhubani in Bihar, India; and Sunsari and Dhanusha in Nepal. These locations were chosen specifically to test techniques in a range of agro-ecological settings, as well as to enable cross-border comparison of results, and to explore the effects of institutional and policy settings.

ACIAR's aim was to understand local systems, and demonstrate the effectiveness of Conservation Agriculture-based Sustainable Intensification (CASI) approaches, while ensuring an enabling environment for supporting and scaling out these technologies.

ACIAR's work focused on: building an understanding of the bio-physical and socioeconomic settings in the region; improving the productivity, livelihoods and resilience of smallholder farmers to climate variability by facilitating the adoption of gender-inclusive, productive, profitable and lower-risk farming systems by over 75,000 farmers in the EGP. The project developed activities in five communities in each of eight districts in the EGP. They are now working with other stakeholders and initiatives to scale relevant technologies to 1.5 million farmers in the broader region as part of ACIAR SDIP2.

More Information 

For further information, please visit the official ACIAR SDIP website

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