Farming First Session at GCARD 2010: Public-Private Partnerships in Agricultural Research

At the first ever Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) at the end of March, Farming First hosted one of the sessions for delegates from around the world.  The session looked at the role of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in agricultural research and how these will help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Led by Lindiwe Sibanda of FANRPAN and Joyce Cacho of Novus International, the panel showcased a number of case studies of successful partnerships to an audience representing science, farming, public, private and civil society organisations from all over the world, who later gathered to discuss the ways to strengthen partnerships to help advance agricultural development.

Out of these discussion groups, three main points emerged:FF at GCARD

  • Knowledge needs to be turned into something tangible and the key role of the private sector in delivering these products or services should not be underestimated.
  • The risks and benefits of all partners in a public-private partnership should be identified and agreed upon from the beginning in order to have clear objectives and responsibilities in place.
  • All partners need to think, plan and work on a much more collaborative level than ever before.

The Farming First background paper for the session offers an in-depth look at how partnerships between the public and private sectors can provide the necessary financing, training, monitoring and infrastructure to ensure that agricultural innovation is both adapted to the farmers’ needs and accessible to them. The paper also includes case studies of successful PPPs, exploring why they have worked well, and how their learnings could be shared. 

GCARD provided a crucial occasion for all key players, from farmer to donor, to debate the best ways for advancing agricultural research.  But whilst discussions help us to shape the future path of research, it is essential that these discussions are turned into viable solutions which are delivered to farmers themselves in the fields.  This imperative is clearly illustrated by GCARD author Uma Lele’s closing mantra, “We need action, action, action.” The Montpellier Roadmap marks the first step on that path.

At GCARD, Farming First also spoke with Sir Gordon Conway, an agricultural ecologist and professor of international development at Imperial College, London.  During the interview, which was broadcast by Reuters, Sir Gordon discussed the Green Revolution of the 1960s, looking at the potential for a similar agricultural revolution in Africa. The Guardian Katine site also featured the interview, highlighting the various challenges that Sir Gordon noted, such as a lack of infrastructure and poor soils, meaning that an African ‘green revolution’ would have to be led by local solutions.

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