As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.
The case of horticulture is of special relevance to exemplify the key role of information in the development of public-private partnerships. Horticultural produce is highly perishable and needs careful and rapid handling after harvest. Access to focused and up-to-date technical and marketing information is crucial. Small-scale holders and entrepreneurs need to manage the risk, and information flow is one of the best management tools. However, horticulture is diverse, communities are fragmented, and information is not easy to access.
GlobalHort has initiated information management activities in the vegetable seed sector for several years already. In 2008 with the Asian-Pacific Seed Association it organized a round table on vegetable farming technology in tropical Asia. Representatives of seed companies and ministries of agriculture agreed upon an action plan to be followed up by APSA and GlobalHort to enable vegetable industry to develop at the regional level. Improved information flow was advocated on both parts.
The first requested flow of information will be focused on the needs of end users (producers) and beneficiaries (consumers). There is a clear task to establish terms of reference, to identify what is the challenge. These needs can address technical or organizational issues. If the challenge is only established by the private sector, it will sound like a marketing study. Such a phase implies close connection with those end users, which is something the industry rarely does. The next phase refers to capacities for translating the needs into technological and economical issues, to make the challenge realistic. This is the role of innovation partners, including research, development, expertise etc.; however, in a participatory approach where information is circulating. Whatever the relevance of an innovative concept, making it popular is crucial for its adoption; it is essential to convince NGOs, policy makers and international organizations. They will create an enabling environment, sometimes competing with purely financial interests.