Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What is the role of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in agricultural development and research?

On the 30th of March 2010. The Farming First coalition organized one of the 8 parallel sessions held on Day 3 of the first Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) which focused on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). The objective of the session was to highlight the important contribution of PPPs in agricultural development targeting in particular smallholder farmers, with a component on applied agronomic research. The session showcased a number of case studies. The session was attended by participants from a wide range of organizations (scientific, farming, public, private and civil society organizations) and countries.

To achieve the greatest reach, business, government and research institutions should work together to develop the needed innovations and outreach programmes. Hereunder are some examples:

  1. Several partnerships have sought to address the challenge of developing locally adapted seed varieties to help improve yields in resource-poor areas. The Improved Maize of African Soils (IMAS) Alliance is a new alliance bringing together foundations, national research institutions, international donors and the private sector in a programme to develop new maize varieties that use fertilizer, and hence nitrogen, more efficiently. Similarly, researchers at the University of Bern have recently teamed up with private sector researchers to explore ways to improve the yield of tef, the most important cereal crop in Ethiopia.
  2. One of the greatest hindrances to farmers benefiting from new innovations is a lack of skills and information on how to use them. Currently, the benefits of many new technologies have yet to be fully realised because farmers haven’t been given sufficient training. To help address this, a partnership between the USAID-funded Agribusiness and Trade Promotion (ATP) project and CropLife Africa Middle East is supporting improved maize production in West Africa, setting up a series of workshops to educate farmers on sustainable farming practices and integrated pest management. By helping farmers to cost-effectively boost yields, the project will strengthen their agricultural input-output chains and improve rural livelihoods.
  3. In Kenya, an innovative programme involving a mobile phone application payment system and automated weather stations offers insurance to smallholders against financial losses if their crops are ruined by drought or flooding. The project, named Kilimo Salama or “Safe Agriculture”, is a collaboration between the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, UAP Insurance and telecom operator Safaricom, and it provides farmers with a safety net to help them to break out of the subsistence cycle. (For more on this, watch a video interview with Syngenta Foundation’s Marco Ferroni discussing the project.)
  4. In order for smallholder farmers in the developing world to truly grow their way out of poverty, they need access to international markets. ‘African Marketplace’, led by IIED and the Sustainable Food Lab and funded by the Gates Foundation, has been working with food retailer ASDA on a new project to link suppliers in sub-Saharan Africa with senior buyers for supermarkets. The programme aims to facilitate £30 million of new business for African products by 2030.

FANRPAN CEO & Head of Mission, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chaired the Farming First session on Public-Private Partnerships session at the GCARD 2010 conference, “Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action”. The main question addressed was: “To sustainably reach the MDG goals, what is the role of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in agricultural development and research?” Hereunder is an interview with Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda from 25/02/2009.

Reference: Guest blog: Building Partnerships to Drive Agricultural Innovation

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