Within the ACIAR SDIP program, several key themes were explored, with a range of projects contributing to our understanding from different angles and at multiple scales. These themes include groundwater development; climate change challenges and opportunities; the role of women in agriculture; and scaling sustainable farming systems. This work recognised that access to groundwater and the wider scale implications of its use are critical, including interactions with energy and food security. These interactions are becoming more important as climate change impacts on rainfall timing, quantity and intensity. The role of women in agriculture is highly variable, and often not well understood.
Techniques that go some way to addressing these challenges exist, but for widescale change they must be used by farming households in large numbers; and lessons in scaling sustainable farming systems have been generated within the program. These elements are critical factors for developing sustainable food systems.